‘I shook the Queen’s hand’: UAE expat recalls special moment from UK royal’s 1979 Dubai visit

‘I shook the Queen’s hand’: UAE expat recalls special moment from UK royal’s 1979 Dubai visit

Tributes have been pouring in for the late monarch

Wam photo used for illustrative purpose

Nasreen Abdulla

Published: Fri 9 Sep 2022, 3:39 PM

Last updated: Fri 9 Sep 2022, 5:09 PM

British nationals in the UAE have been sharing their special moments with Queen Elizabeth II as tributes pour in for the late monarch.

Briton Dikrayet Saleh was just a little girl studying at the Dubai English Speaking School (DESS) when the Queen visited the UAE in 1979.

“I remember being smartly dressed and a group of us students being taken from the school to the British embassy,” she said. “We all stood in a line and the Queen walked past us and shook hands with all of us.”

Saleh spoke about how special it felt. “As a small child, it was a significant event for me,” she said. “Now that she is gone, it feels strange. All of us who are living now have our passports in the name of Her Majesty. From now onwards, it will be His Majesty. That will be a huge change.”

The most travelled monarch in the world, Queen Elizabeth visited the UAE twice – in 1979 and 2010.

Another UAE resident Rebecca Rees recalled the time she too saw the Queen in the late 1970s. “She was visiting our town to tour the atomic weapons facility where my father still works as an engineer,” she said. “I remember being a little girl and watching as she drove by. I waved at her, and she waved back. It felt so special.”

The Briton, who grew up near Windsor, where the Queen had a residence, said she also remembered attending the street parties of the monarch’s silver jubilee. “One of my earliest childhood memories is of the street parties to celebrate the Queen’s silver jubilee in 1977. I was just seven years old at the time, but to this day I can still picture the sea of red, white and blue flags that lined our street. Having moved overseas in 2005, I wasn’t in the UK for the Golden or Platinum Jubilee celebrations – something I now regret.”
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