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ARABS were famous for their sagacity. There were personalities who could determine an insightful person by just one glance.
According to a folklore story, a minister had given his sultan a mare. The sultan then asked for an expert groom to take care of the mare and train her.
About 20 days later, the sultan asked the expert about the mare, and the expert told him that the horse is a thoroughbred but was not breastfed by her mother.
The sultan asked the minister who gave him the mare to comment on what the expert said. The minister admitted that the mother of the mare died when she was born, and he could only find a cow to breastfeed her.
The sultan then ordered his aide to arrange for a chicken to be slaughtered, cooked with rice and broth, and sent to the expert to express his appreciation.
Some days later, one of the nobles gave the sultan a falcon as a gift. The falcon was given to the same expert for nurturing and care. After two weeks, the expert revealed to the sultan that the falcon has the characteristics of falcons but was raised with chickens.
The next day when the noble went to the sultan’s assembly, the sultan asked him why he gave him a falcon that is not purebred.
The noble said, “Your honor, we go to the desert to search in the nests of falcons for their eggs. When we find them, we take them to our chickens who in turn incubate the eggs until they hatch. We then give the falcons to the kings, princes and sultans.”
The sultan ordered a lamb to be slaughtered, cooked with rice and broth, and sent to the expert to appreciate his profession.
A few weeks later, the sultan requested the expert to become the servant and advisor to his new wife. At first, the expert turned down the offer, but with a little persuasion, he accepted the job.
After a while the sultan asked him, “What’s your opinion about my new wife?” The expert begged to be excused from answering that question but the sultan insisted and assured him that he is safe in whatever comment he will make.
The expert said, “She has the upbringing of monarchs, the honor of monarchs, and the morals and generosity of monarchs, but she is not the daughter of a monarch.”
The sultan went to her father who is the governor of one of the towns in order to clarify the matter. He said, “Tell me the truth about my wife, or else I will condemn you.”
The governor said, “Our daughter is yours and you are hers, according to an agreement between me and your father since she was two years old. However, my daughter contracted measles and died. At that time your father ordered us to evacuate from the area. As we were leaving the area, I found a two-year old girl alone near an abandoned house. I took her and raised her as my own. When she grew up, I fulfilled the promise to marry her to you.”
The sultan returned to his palace, and ordered to feed the expert with a lamb in the morning, another at lunch, and another at dinner. He also commanded the expert to be his aide.
Now the expert was confused as he wanted to find a way out of that predicament. He begged the sultan to excuse him from becoming his aide, but to no avail. The expert fled, but the sultan caught up with him and arrested him.
After the exchange of several words, the expert said, “O sultan, you are not the son of a monarch… Go and find your origin!”
The sultan went to his mother and asked her, “Whose son am I? I want to know today.”
She said, “Your father did not have children, and to avoid the sultanate from falling after his death, I asked him to divorce me. After completing the divorce process, I got married to the palace’s cook. When I got pregnant, he divorced me, and attributed you to the sultan.”
So he returned to the expert and asked him, “How did you know?”
The expert explained, “Let’s start with the horse. Thoroughbreds usually eat from a manger or from an elevated place while their heads are raised. As for your horse, it was looking for food on the ground like cows. Regarding the falcon, it was eating the food of a chicken. Regarding your new wife, despite having a palace upbringing, she makes a specific gesture when she talks, which is not common among the royals but among the commoners.”
In the end, the sultan asked him how he figured out that he is not a son of a monarch. The expert responded, “When a monarch gives, he gives gold and silver. But you give broth, rice and meat, and whatever else the cook brings. The food will be coming as long as the sultan is content. But when he becomes angry, he cuts off the food for you.”
At the beginning of my journalistic career, I worked as an editor for Al-Rai Al-Aam newspaper. One of my tasks was to follow up the news of the Ministry of Interior.
Every day we passed by the office of the late undersecretary at the time Major General Abdul Lateef Al-Thuwaini. Some people used to visit his office. When one of them finished his request and went out, he said that the man’s words were not true, and that he relied on the viewpoints and actions of those in front of him.
There are many rulers in the Gulf who are known in this capacity, including King Salman bin Abdulaziz. He had a great sense of intuition, and knew the nature of men and their capabilities without asking them. He thus chose smart and diligent people to be among his staff when he was the Governor of Riyadh.
Similar to him was the late Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, who knew at first sight those who were fit to work in his crew and those who were opportunistic and inexperienced.
In all of the Gulf countries, open assemblies of rulers represented a laboratory for the people, as it was enough for one of them to speak or for any indication to come from him so that the ruler knew him. The choice was made on the discerning loyalty to his country, without any errors in the selection of assistants and advisors.
Even these selections were not presented through any consultation in which there is reconciliation, because the ruler knows from the way of speaking if it serves the national issue and delivers justice and equity for public affairs. This is why these countries succeeded in maintaining their stability and developing themselves.
By Ahmed Al-Jarallah
Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times