The United Arab Emirates (UAE) flag incorporates the Pan-Arab colours of black, white, green, and red.
The Pan-Arab colours were first combined in 1916 in the flag of the Arab Revolt; the British-backed Arab uprising against the Ottoman Empire in World War I. The flag was designed by British soldier and diplomat Sir Mark Sykes (1879 – 1919) to promote unity between the Arab forces.
Since the Arab Revolt, the Pan-Arab colours have been incorporated into the flags of many Arab countries. In addition to the flag of the UAE, the flags of Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Palestine, and Yemen all use the same colours.
The UAE flag was first unveiled on December 2, 1971; the day the UAE was formed (UAE National Day). It was designed by Abdullah Mohammed Al Maainah, a 19 year old Emirati teenager from Abu Dhabi. He would go on to become the UAE ambassador to South Korea, and later Chile and the Czech Republic.
Meaning of the Colours
The colours of the flag of the Arab Revolt represented various historical Arab families and caliphates:
- Red – Hashemites
- White – Umayyad Caliphate
- Green – Fatimid Caliphate
- Black – Abbasid Caliphate
The colours also refer to characteristics of Arab people, as stated in a 13th century poem written by Safi Al-Din Al-Hilli;
We are a people whose character refuses, for honour, to cause harm to those who do not harm us: white (pure) are our deeds, black are our battles, green are our fields, red (bloody) are our swords.
This gives rise to modern interpretations of the colours:
- Red – Sacrifice and bravery
- White – Peace and giving
- Green – Growth, prosperity, and progress
- Black – Power and strength
In an interview with The National newspaper in 2011, Al Maainah said he chose the colours for more local reasons. He stated that black represents the oil riches that transformed the UAE, green stands for fertility, and the red and white colours were drawn from those found in existing emirate flags.
Dimensions and Design
UAE Federal Law No. 2 (issued 1971) sets out the design of the national flag. The law states that the flag is rectangular in shape with a length equal to twice the width.
The flag is divided into rectangular parts. The first part is red and next to the pole. It is equal to ¼ the length of the flag. The remaining area is divided into three equal horizontal bands. The top band is green, the middle white, and the bottom black.
If the flag is in a vertical position, the red part must be at the top, and the green on the right.
UAE Flag Day
UAE Flag Day is celebrated every year on November 3. Huge flags are displayed throughout the UAE; on government buildings, public buildings, tourist attractions, hotels, shopping malls, schools, and many other places.
United Arab Emirates flags also play a significant part in the UAE National Day celebrations the following month.
Pictures and Downloads
Dubai Online offers images of the UAE flag in various formats; png, jpg, and pdf.
Readers are welcome to download the following files for non-commercial use provided credit to this website is given.
Photo Credit: fisher in focus/Shutterstock