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Egypt as United Arab Republic (1958-1972)

Last modified: 2020-08-02 by ian macdonald
Keywords: united arab republic | coat of arms | eagle of saladin | stars: 2 (green) | seal | president | anchors: 4 (yellow) | naval ensign | anchors: 2 (white) |
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[Flag of UAR] image by Željko Heimer

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Description of the flag

The flag of the United Arab Republic (UAR - Egypt and Syria) was red-white-black with two green stars. Syria left in 1961, but Egypt kept the UAR name and flag until the 31 December 1971. Ironically Syria since went on to adopt her present flag which is the same as the UAR's. And just to make things really confusing, apparently the Iraqi red-white-black with three green stars was introduced in 1963 for a proposed union of Egypt, Syria and Iraq which never happened...

Roy Stilling, 5 October 1996

The Provisional Constitution (Art. 65) promulgated on 5 March 1958 is mute on the design of the national flag and says a special law would define it. Where is such law? Here it comes:
Official Gazette on April 8 1958 - Issue 5 bis

Decision of the President of the United Arab Republic
Law No. 12 of 1958 regarding the national flag

Article 1 - The national flag of the United Arab Republic is composed of three colors black, white and red, and it has two stars, each with five points, green. The flag shall be rectangular with a width of two thirds of its length, consisting of three equal dimensions rectangles along the top of the flag in red, the middle in white and the third in black. The center of the two stars is a white rectangle. According to the attached model.

Article 6 -This law shall be published in the Official Gazette, and it shall be enforced from the date of its publication. It was issued under the presidency of the Republic on 18 Ramadan 1377 (April 7 1958).

URL source (Arabic):

Thus the 1958 flag was effective 8 April 1958.

Ben Cahoon, 14 July 2020

Coat of arms

[Coat of arms] image by Martin Grieve, 25 March 2012

Adopted in 1958 on the formation of the UAR. The supporter, called 'Saladin's eagle', bears on it breasts a shield derived from the national flag. Beneath the eagle, the name of the country is inscribed in Kufic script.

Source: Pedersen. The International Flag Book in Color [ped71]

Ivan Sache, 28 June 2002


[Seal] image by Martin Grieve

Source: Pedersen. The International Flag Book in Color [ped71]

President's standard

[President's standard] image by Martin Grieve, 25 March 2012

Construction Sheet

[Square President's standard] image by Martin Grieve

The very first Presidential flag of Egypt (and that of the United Arab Republic) was the national flag of the U.A.R. Charged with the new emblem "The eagle of Saladin" in the canton.

Although Saladin was a Kurd, not an Arab, he is often hailed as a hero in the Arab world because he united so much of it in the late 12th Century and defended Islamic territories against the Crusaders. The eagle associated with Saladin is sculptured on the west facade of the wall of the Citadel of Cairo which was built by his order. That eagle, the head of which is now missing, is considered by modern Arabs to be the personal emblem of Saladin and was therefore adopted to represent the defence of Arab unity and territory.

Whatever its actual origins and significance, the “eagle of Saladin” has served at one time or another over the past fifty years as the basis for the arms of Libya, Egypt, both Yemens (prior to their unification), and Iraq. Its use as a cap badge by the late Yasir Arafat signaled its adoption as the the coat of arms of Palestine. It may also have indirectly inspired the coats of arms of the United Arab Emirates and the Sudan.

The flag illustrated here was for use by the President on land only, a completely different flag was taken into use when at sea. This tradition was quite clearly influenced by the use of two separate flags for the King when Egypt was a kingdom between 1923-1958. Curiously, Christian Fogd Pedersen Pedersen neglects to inform the reader of this in his book “The International flag book in colour”, but Roberto Breschi draws both flags on his "Bandiera" website.

Sources: The Flag Bulletin XXIV:2/110, March - April 1985, (Bandiere website)

Martin Grieve, 25 March 2012

President's standard at sea

[President's standard] image by Martin Grieve, 31 March 2012

Construction Sheet

[Square President's standard] image by Martin Grieve, 1 April 2012

An exclusive Presidential flag for use at sea was adopted by the United Arab Republic at some time in 1958 and consisted of a blue field charged with the seal of Egypt in the centre and containing four gold fouled anchors in all four cantons. There was, according to CF Pedersen, a square version of this. Perhaps this would have been flown from the bowsprit in the form of a jack?

The cables on the fouled anchors appear to lie behind the stock which is unusual, as most fouled anchors in vexillology have these on top and in an "intertwining" fashion. This flag was clearly influenced by the Royal flag of Egypt which contained 4 crowns in the corner. The flag was abolished when the Federation of Arab Republics was formed in 1972.

Martin Grieve, 31 March 2012

Naval ensign

[Naval ensign] image by Calvin Paige Herring

Source: Pedersen. The International Flag Book in Color [ped71]