Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Sheikh sighting

Yesterday I left the house to do some errands and ran smack into the entourage of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohammed al Qassimi. He's the one in the yellow/golden robe.

He was attending the opening of an art exhibit at AUS. The truth is, I actually see HH the Sheikh quite a bit. I don't know what's average for a person who lives in Sharjah, but I feel like I see him maybe once a month, sometimes more often. This is partially because he's at AUS a lot, and partially because my office happens to have this view:

That rotunda area is where most of the fancy receptions are. I always know we're in for a visit from HH the Sheikh when I have to pass through security on my way into work. He has separate male and female security detail personnel so I don't have to suffer the indignity of being searched by a man. As soon as I get to my office, I can sit back and watch the dignitaries file in from five stories up.

I'll get to shake the Sheikh's hand when I graduate, so I'm looking forward to that. It's nice to have the leader of our emirate be a very visible personality, at least on campus. When we lived in Moscow, to get to work at the embassy we'd have to pass by the Russian White House (the seat of parliament). In Russia, anyone who's anyone in the government (or who has enough money) can put a blue light on top of their car and basically halt traffic to get to where they need to go. These people and their considerable vehicular entourages caused traffic jams near the White House, and therefore the embassy, all. the. time. It was such a pain.

Maybe that happens with dignitaries here, too, but I've never encountered it. Our traffic jams usually have much more boring causes. What a pleasure it is to be able to enjoy the presence of the Sheikh from time to time, and know that he doesn't feel the need to shut down half the city to make an appearance anywhere.


Kathy Haynie said...

That's so cool! On an unrelated note, thank you for your ongoing blog posts. I've been slacking lately, and your blog inspires me. (Not quite inspired enough to sit down and post yet, but I'll get there.)

Crys said...

The view from your office is amazing! What happened to dank little basement labs next to bathrooms holding 50 years of discarded text books? You lucky girl :)

Liz Johnson said...

I am not well-versed in how this is all set up - would the Sheikh be similar to a governor of a state in the US, but with religious authority as well? Sorta like a governor-meets-Catholic-cardinal? Or just more like a cardinal?

Bridget said...

Great question! I forget what is normal and what is not around here. The Sheikh is the ruler of Sharjah. HH stands for His Highness. He's like a king, but of the emirate. Does that make sense? So technically it would be like seeing President Obama all the time but a President Obama of a much smaller geographical region and population.

Liz Johnson said...

So... is there a head Sheikh of the UAE? A Sheikh of all Sheikhs, if you will? Or no?

Does he have any religious authority? Or only municipal?

(sorry, I'm super curious.)

Bridget said...

Ah, you've made me re-think my analogy. I guess I was thinking only of Sharjah. Yes, there is a "Sheikh of all Sheikhs" here - the president of the UAE. I hope I'm getting this right - the president of the UAE is also the Sheikh of Abu Dhabi. The vice president of the UAE is also the Sheikh of Dubai.

HH Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohammed al Qassimi has all kinds of authority, but I don't know the specifics. One example: he is the president of our university in a figurehead sense. Everything done here is done under his "auspices," which is a word I have become very familiar with here in the UAE.


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