Nov 27 2010
‘DHIMMI’ (Non-Muslim living under Sharia) QUEEN covers her head and goes barefoot in Abu Dhabi.
UK DAILY MAIL – (H/T Jack) – Shoeless and wearing a beekeeper-style shawl and hat, the Queen walked across the world’s largest carpet last night as she met Islamic students in Abu Dhabi at the start of her five-day state visit to the Gulf.
No sooner had the Queen and Prince Philip stepped off their chartered British Airways flight from London than they were taken straight to the Sheikh Zayed Mosque, the country’s largest. The floor of its main prayer hall is covered in a 35-ton carpet which took 1,200 Iranian women two years to stitch by hand.
In keeping with Islamic tradition, the Queen removed her shoes before entering and padded in in stockinged feet.
While other female members of the party wore a traditional ‘abaya’ or full-length cloak over their clothes and a ‘sheela’ or scarf, the Queen wore a gold brocade coat embroidered with Swarovski crystals over her matching dress, both designed by her dresser, Angela Kelly. She tied a gold lame shawl over her pillbox hat to cover her hair.
Not only was the Queen the first visiting head of state to visit the mosque but it is seen as hugely symbolic here that the Supreme Governor of the Church of England should visit a place that, despite its young age, is a national shrine.
Before entering the main chamber, the Queen paid her respects at the tomb of Sheikh Zayed, founding father of the United Arab Emirates.
This visit, her first in 31 years, is designed to underline a renewed spirit of co-operation between the UAE and Britain’s Coalition Government. The Queen will be accompanied throughout by the Foreign Secretary, William Hague.
In an unusual departure from convention, the royal couple are also being accompanied by the Duke of York in his capacity as a trade ambassador for Britain.
Arriving in Abu Dhabi last night, Prince Andrew gave his first – very warm – public thoughts on Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding. ‘I think this is the most wonderful piece of news that the UK has had for a long time… I’m aware that the United Kingdom has taken Kate to their heart, I think that’s absolutely wonderful news,’ said the Duke, who also married in Westminster Abbey, to Sarah Ferguson in 1986.
‘I think a spring wedding will be absolutely fantastic. I understand it’s going to take place over a bank holiday weekend so it’s another excuse for a good party and I think it’s wonderful news – it’s absolutely great.’
Foreign Secretary William Hague and his wife Ffion (left) arrive at the Sheikh Zayed Mosque before the Queen
Commenting on the importance of the Queen’s trip, which will also include a two-day state visit to neighbouring Oman, Andrew said: ‘I think you have to look back to the fact this is a long-standing relationship between the UAE and the United Kingdom which reaches back over 40 years when the UAE was a protectorate.
‘A lot of work has gone on in the intervening period. Since the new Government came in there’s been an increased level of concern for this particular region in terms of investment, in terms of business opportunities. ‘This has been reciprocated by the UAE and other countries in the region.
‘The Queen’s visit here is extremely important not only for the relationship between the UK and UAE… but also for the wider region.’ The Queen last visited the Emirates in 1979 when she was a guest of the founding father and former president of the UAE Sheikh Zayed.
Abu Dhabi is one of the more prominent members of the UAE, a collection of seven emirates that united in 1971 after gaining full independence from the UK.
Like many of its neighbours it has prospered during the last 50 years from the wealth created by oil reserves.
It has an impressive skyline of skyscrapers and is a modern state that is home to around 100,000 Britons while many Emiratis see Britain as ‘the eighth emirate’ because of their ties with the UK.
As part of her visit, the Queen also officially launched a British-designed project to build a new national museum in the United Arab Emirates. She unveiled the design today for the new Sheik Zayed National Museum on Saadiyat Island off Abu Dhabi.
The project is designed by British architects and backed by the British Museum. The museum will be part of a cultural complex that will include branches of the Guggenheim and Louvre museums.
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