“Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance” Confucius
So I was sitting all on my lonesome (insert ahhhh here) in Starbucks at Marina Mall, sipping my post Pilates latte and munching through some banana bread, working on my laptop (just setting the scene) when I was approached by a lady, who introduced herself as a reporter from The National newspaper with a notepad and everything, and asked me if I would be waving a flag for UAE National Flag Day.
Now my response was a blank face/vacant stare followed by ‘I have no idea what you are talking about, sorry, is it another world record attempt?” to which she thanked me and moved swiftly on, presumably to a more intelligent caffeine lover, with the look of ‘why did I approach the brain-dead expat housewife’ in the first place etched in her eyes. She knew the risks, it was half way through the afternoon in a mall, busy people are off being busy! My coffee tasted a bit sour after that!
So this prompted me to research this event to rectify my ignorance, living here for over four years I am ashamed to say this event has completely passed me by (much like the learning arabic, insh’Allah) and I am now going to share it with you as I am good and kind like that (no sniggering please), so that if you should ever be in the same position you can at least offer an intelligent response. Or maybe it might come up in the trivia round in the pub quiz alongside ‘What was Postman Pat’s cat called?’ (shouting the answer at your device, are you?) and you will think of this incident of the thicko in the coffee shop and thank me (by the way I got the cat question right in a quiz, showing my intellectual prowess right there).
The UAE flag was designed in 1971 by then 19-year-old Abdullah Mohammed Al Maainah from Abu Dhabi, who won the flag design contest that he saw advertised in the Al Ittihad newspaper. His design was chosen from over 1,030 other entries and it was first flown on the inaugural National Day on 2nd December 1971. Al Maainah said in the press back then, that he choose the four colours of white, green, black and red to reflect a verse from a Safieddine Al Hila poem, “White our deeds, green our surroundings … black our battles, red our swords.” In another interview, years later he said “The black has come to represent the oil that sustains the country, the green for fertility and the nation’s gardens, while the white and red signified unity of the emirates.”
The UAE came together again last week as the flag was hoisted across all seven emirates Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Qaiwain, Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah that make up part of the Arabian Peninsula, in unison. The power of social media ensured that the nation was instantly updated with everyone’s celebrations, with Instagram updates full of photos of the UAE flag and on Twitter, tweets with the hashtag #UAE_FlagDay were trending, as people shared their experiences.
So that’s my knowledge updated and I can return to the coffee shop, but maybe a different one and I will follow my mother’s advice from my childhood, “Don’t talk to strangers!“
All views are my own based on my experience. Unless otherwise stated, all photos on this page © Jo Brett 2013. All rights reserved.