Ali Kaddas Al Romaithi

Three-time world heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali visited the UAE several times in the 1970s and early 1980s. What initially brought him to the young nation? A friendship that started in Arizona.

After the UAE’s founding in 1971, its first President, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, launched an ambitious greenhouse project after reading about new techniques for growing plants in desert climates. As part of the project, three Emirati students, including Abdullah Kaddas Al Romaithi, went to the University of Arizona to study agricultural and irrigation engineering.

Local to Arizona and new to the religion of Islam, “The Greatest” jumped at the opportunity to meet with the Emirati students. A friendship was formed, and Muhammad Ali promised to visit Abdullah Kaddas in Abu Dhabi one day. When that day finally came, Muhammad Ali visited his home and toured the recently completed Saadiyat Island greenhouses.

Hear the son of Abdullah Kaddas share the story of their friendship.