This evening I learned that His Highness Sheikh Ahmed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan has been confirmed dead, regrettably too early at the young age of 42. For the uninitiated, Bin (or occasionally “Ibn”) means son of – so from his name alone you can tell he was the son of the founding father of the UAE, the late Sheikh Zayed; and the last name, Al Nahyan is Abu Dhabi’s ruling family’s surname. It turns out he was the younger brother of Abu Dhabi’s current ruler, and President of UAE, Sheikh Khalifa.
Sheikh Ahmed’s body was missing for 3-4 days after his glider crashed in Morocco, so it was pretty clear the story was not going to end well. I figured out that news had broke of his body being found as soon as I got in the car this evening and turned on the radio. All of the English stations were playing morbid classical music, and all other stations had Arabic prayers being sung. Within the UAE they routinely do this out of respect to the family. Depending on how closely they were related to the ruler, this mourning period can go for days.
Earlier this year one of the elder Al Nahyan family members passed away, which took all modern music off the radio for a couple of days. We kept the radio turned off to avoid falling asleep when driving. And after waiting for a while, I thought I’d just switch the radio on just for a second to see if the mourning period had ended, the moment I switched it on Lady Gaga sang “I wanna take a ride on your disco stick”, so yep, it had finished. Although, the music was no improvement.
The question now arises, will we get days off. Apparently it’s quite common for public holidays to be issued when a royal family member passes away. And again the number of days off depends on how closely related the deceased was within the royal ranks.
One of the minor things we looked at when we were sussing out Dubai and our potential move, was the comparison of holidays between Dubai and our home city of Brisbane. At first glance it seemed they were very close in number. UAE misses Christian holidays such as Easter and Christmas, but they have many single days off for Muslim occasions. And when you add the days off that happen when people die, it seems Dubai’s working days per year could be quite less than Brisbane.