June 16, 2013
This week sees Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, visiting Paris to support the Expo 2020 bid. It is also almost exactly 60 years to the month since what was the first official visit to Europe by a Ruler from the Emirates.
May and June 1953 saw a party headed by Sheikh Shakhbut bin Sultan Al Nahyan, then Ruler of Abu Dhabi, arrive in London and Paris.
Sheikh Shakhbut was accompanied by his brother, Sheikh Zayed, then the Ruler’s Representative for the Western Region, and the redoubtable Khalifa bin Yousef Al Suwaidi, the Ruler’s right-hand man.
The party flew first to London, where they had been invited to attend the coronation of Queen Elizabeth, although for reasons that have never been entirely clear, the Ruler did not attend. Instead the group headed to Paris, for legal hearings to settle a dispute over oil concessions.
In addition to their official business, the Royal party found time to take in the sights of the city, relaxing in the parks, going up the Eiffel Tower and, as this photo shows, encountering the legendary hauteur of the Parisiennes at Lac Inférieur in the Bois de Boulogne, where this image was almost certainly taken.
* James Langton