A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Ruler of Ras al-Khaimah Dies at 92

Sheikh Saqr al-Qasimi, Ruler of the UAE Emirate of Ras al-Khaimah, has died at age 92. He was reportedly the world's oldest reigning monarch (though not longest reigning: the King of Thailand holds that title), and died at dawn today.

His presumed successor is the Crown Prince, Sheikh Sa‘ud, though the succession has been disputed by the deposed and exiled Crown Prince, Sheikh Khalid; see my earlier post on the issue, but also be sure to read the exchange of comments by people who know more about it than I do.

Ras al-Khaimah is the northernmost emirate of the UAE, and its name can be translated as "top of the tent," (or Cape of the Tent), though whether that relates to its geography, I don't know.

1 comment:

David Mack said...

As U.S. Ambassador to the UAE in the late 1980s, I met often with Shaikh Saqr bin Muhammad and have vivid memories of the man. He could be at times bluntly honest about what he would like the U.S. government to do for the U.A.E. and for relatively resource poor Emirate of Ras al-Khaimah. He was not much for pretense. In my initial courtesy call on him, he told me a lot about the history of the Aal Qawasim, the tribe which provides the ruling families of both RAK and the wealthier Shujairah. The British, he observed, called them pirates. His distant relative, Shaikh Sultan, both the Ruler of Shujairah and a historian with a doctorate from Exeter in the U.K, had written a book entitled The Myth of Arab Piracy in the Gulf, making the case that the Aal Qawasim were really proto-Arab nationalists. Saqr, his black eyes flashing, shook his head and commented in his khaliji dialect Arabic: "The truth is, we were pirates."