The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has decided to delay festivities for the return of President Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan from a kidney transplant at a US hospital until after the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.
The 82-year-old president flew in late Sunday from London, where he stopped over last week after a three-month period of recuperation from his operation in Cleveland, Ohio on August 28.
He had been out of the Gulf state since July 13 when he left for Europe.
But plans for large-scale celebrations were scrapped because of the ongoing tension in the Middle East which has seen around 290 Palestinians killed in clashes with Israeli forces since the end of September.
And the cabinet called for all festivities to be put back until the end of Ramadan, which began in the Gulf on Monday and runs until around December 25, the official news agency WAM reported.
Despite the low-key return, Abu Dhabi was bedecked with a huge 200-meter-long (650-foot-long) flag along its airport road, 600,000 other national flags and a staggering five million colored lamps.
Giant portraits of Sheikh Zayed adorned buildings and 50,000 flowers were planted along the capital's corniche, packed with drivers blowing their horns and waving Emirati flags and pictures of the president.
Sheikh Zayed has been president since the federation of seven emirates was formed in 1971 and is credited with guiding its transformation from a largely bedouin society to one of the world's richest states thanks to its oil wealth.
He has "transformed what was once a desert backyard into a developed, modern and prosperous state enjoying worldwide respect," Khaleej Times said.
"Few leaders in the world have been able to command such love and respect as was witnessed in the country yesterday when the president returned home in good health and high spirits," it said.
The Bahrain Tribune, meanwhile, reported that Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Issa al-Khalifa had issued a decree renaming one of the main roads in Bahrain after Sheikh Zayed to mark the UAE leader's safe return to Abu Dhabi -- ABU DHABI (AFP)
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