Saqr bin Mohammad Al Qasimi
|Sheikh Saqr bin Moḥammad Al Qasimi|
|"Emir" (monarch) of Ras Al Khaimah|
|Reign||17 July 1948 – 27 October 2010|
|Predecessor||Sulṭân bin Salim Al Qasimi|
|Successor||Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi|
|Born||c. 1918–1920 [a]
Ras Al Khaimah,
|Died||27 October 2010
Ras Al Khaimah, United Arab Emirates
|Issue||Khalid bin Saqr Al Qasimi
Sultan bin Saqr Al Qasimi
Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi
Mohammed bin Saqr Al Qasimi
Omar bin Saqr Al Qasimi
Talib bin Saqr Al Qasimi
Faisal bin Saqr Al Qasimi
Ahmed bin Saqr Al Qasimi
Sheikh Saqr bin Moḥammad Al Qasimi (c. 1918–1920[a] – 27 October 2010) was the Emîr (Arabic: أمير) (Ruler) of Ras Al Khaimah, an emirate on the Persian Gulf, from 1948 to 2010. On the 10th February 1972, under his leadership, Ras Al Khaimah become the seventh Trucial State to join the United Arab Emirates.
He became the Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah on 17 July 1948, when he overthrew his paternal uncle and father-in-law[b] Sheikh Sultan bin Salim Al Qasimi in a bloodless coup d'etat. Saqr exiled Sultan to Sharjah. At the time of his death in 2010, Saqr was the world's oldest reigning monarch at age ~90.
Early life and education
Sheikh Saqr was born in the city of Ras Al Khaimah, where he was brought up in the care of his father, Sheikh Mohammad bin Salim, who ruled the emirate as regent for his ailing and paralysed father Salim bin Sultan Al Qasimi between 1917 and 1919. However, upon Mohammad bin Salim's death, his younger brother Sultan bin Salim took power. Sultan bin Salim Al Qasimi was recognised by the British as ruler of Ras Al Khaimah in 1921. :(pages 86-88)
Sheikh Saqr received a religious and primary education. He learned to read from regionally-renowned clerics as a youth,[who?] and later joined a semi-regular school in Ras Al Khaimah to further study reading and writing, as well as principles of mathematics. He studied oratory and Arabic arts.
Rise to power
Sheikh Saqr bin Muhammad Al Qasimi became the ruler of the emirate of Ras Al Khaimah on 17 July 1948, after a bloodless coup against Sultan bin Salim Al Qasimi, who had allegedly neglected his subjects and alienated them by secretly signing oil concessions with British company PCL (Petroleum Concessions Ltd).:(pages 86-88)
His early years in power necessitated meeting the challenge posed by the Shihuh, a tribe affiliated to the Sultan of Muscat, who nevertheless lived and had holdings and customary rights in both the mountainous and coastal areas of Ras Al Khaimah, for instance the previously rebellious village of Sha'am. Both these and the oft-secessionist tribes of Za'ab in Jazirat Al Hamra and the Tanaij of Rams were brought under Ras Al Khaimah or, as in the example of the Za'ab, exiled militarily.:(pages 86-88) It should be noted that the ruler of the Zaab (Jazirat Al Hamra) was among the only 4 independent rulers who signed the first treaty with the British in 1820, while Ras al-Khaimah town was burned by the British and the capital was at Khatt. Also, the current state of Ras Al Khaimah was only recognised in 1921. A British general travelling in 1925 also speaks about the Zaab (Jazirat Al Hamra) as a state independent of any other sheikhdom.
Politics and accession to UAE
After Sheikh Saqr gained complete control of Ras Al Khaimah, he began to delegate power through tribal leaders in order to avoid further bloodshed and to facilitate cooperation with the tribes. These tribal leaders functioned as middlemen between Sheikh Saqr and the people of Ras Al Khaimah; no tribal member could meet with the Emir without the permission of his respective Wali or Sheikh.
Sheikh Saqr initially refused to support Ras Al-Khaimah's accession to the UAE when it was formed on 2 December 1971, due to a dispute with Iran over Persian Gulf islands that had prior to British domination of the region been administered by the rulers of Ras Al Khaimah and Sharjah. Following the evacuation of the British and prior to the establishment of the UAE, an Iranian naval expeditionary force landed on the islands on 30 November 1970.:(pages 366-370) Sheikh Saqr made his approval of Ras Al Khaimah joining the UAE contingent on the promise by Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan of Abu Dhabi and Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum of Dubai that the new UAE Federal Government would support Ras Al-Khaimah's claim to the islands. Having obtained this promise, Ras Al Khaimah joined the UAE on 10 February 1972.:(pages 366-370)
Sheikh Saqr appointed his oldest son, Khalid bin Saqr Al Qasimi, as the Crown Prince of Ras Al Khaimah in 1974. Sheikh Khalid was replaced by another of Sheikh Saqr's sons, Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi, on 28 April 2003, and Khalid chose the Omani capital Muscat for his unconditional exile. The transfer of power marked the first time in the UAE (there were regicidal coups in Sharjah, however) that a Crown Prince had been removed in such a manner; and at the time of the decree, UAE Army soldiers and tanks were deployed around sensitive sites in Ras Al Khaimah in case of unrest.
Khalid had a reputation as a supporter of women's rights and a Western reformer, and his wife, Sheikha Fawqai Al Qasami, was a playwright and an active campaigner for women's issues. Sheikh Saud was seen as more of a traditionalist.
Death and succession
Sheikh Saqr died after being ill for several months on 27 October 2010. The Crown Prince, Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi, is his successor. Khalid bin Saqr Al Qasimi posted a web video proclaiming himself ruler of Ras Al Khaimah shortly after the Sheikh Saqr's death. The video was a part of a broader campaign Khalid had launched to gain the support of the U.S. and regional power brokers.
Khalid reportedly had little support among the tribes of Ras Al Khaimah or the leaders of the other six emirates. The Federal Supreme Council, made up of the rulers of each of the UAE's seven emirates, quickly declared its support for Sheikh Saud's succession. Sheikh Saud declared 40 days of mourning following his appointment.
- a1 2 : A few sources such as The Daily Telegraph and the Khaleej Times gave 9 April 1918 as Saqr's birth date at a time when this date was in Wikipedia. However, given the absence of a record-keeping administration in the Trucial States at the time, it is unlikely that his birth can be dated with such precision. For instance, Reuters states that Saqr was "believed to be in his late 90s" at the time of his death, while the BBC asserts that he "was in his early 90s" when he died. Many reputable sources (such as the Library of Congress Country Studies, reports from the British Foreign Office, and Burke's Peerage) give 1920 as Saqr's year of birth.
- b1 He married his paternal first cousin, Sheikha Nora bint Sultan Al Qasimi.
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Media related to Saqr bin Mohammad al-Qassimi at Wikimedia Commons