‘I worked long and hard, and I did not sleep until morning’
Abdullah Al Maeena is known in UAE history as the Emirati who built the national flag. The 18-year-old man, who had the proudest moment of his life as he watched his creation strike the sky, represented his beloved homeland.
But what others did not know was that after his historic achievement, Al Maeena continued to work for the corpses of the country for 49 years. And with every conference and meeting he attended, flag salute became part of his routine. Was it in perfect condition? Was it well raised? Was it in the right condition? In his own way, he became the flag bearer of the UAE.
There was one occasion, during his time as Foreign Minister, when he had to request a leave of absence from a media interview to prepare for the flag.
“I remember in one interview with the media on an international television station – where the UAE is being celebrated – I realized that the flag of my country was not up to standard. So, I should have cut the TV talk and asked them to put it in the right way, ”Al Maeena told the Khaleej Times.
Almost fifty years of working for embassies was an honor, he said, “but, nevertheless, nothing could be more precious than the moment I discovered that it was my design chosen to represent the UAE”.
Remembering the time he joined the competition
Al Maeena can remember 1971 as if it were yesterday.
He came across a newspaper advertisement, calling for everyone to join a national flag design competition. Armed with simple tools and his drawing talent, he set to work as quickly as he had just two days before the deadline.
When I finished, I added six designs to a special album. Then the next morning I went to the post office and asked the employee to send the album to the address shown in the ad, ”said Al Maeena.
“That’s why, one of my six winning varieties, became the independent flag of the Emirates to this day.”
The UAE flag was first hoisted on December 2, 1971, when a union of seven monarchs was formally established.
“When I saw the founding father of the UAE Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan on TV, hoisting the flag I was designing, I was overjoyed. I started running fast on my feet for half an hour to the palace in Abu Dhabi.
Al Maeena used to design precious gems.
He received Dh4,000 as a prize
Although he had seen his flag design fly high in the country, Al Maeena still had to wait for the official announcement that he had indeed won the competition.
On that day the staff cooperated with the authorities to give me the prize – a sum of Dh4,000, ”he said.
He thanked the award, he said, but it will never equal the moment of flag-raising.
“I think of the tremendous respect I have received from my life, as well as the joy of my mother embracing me and embracing me. He was proud of me. ”