UAE: 100-year-old British expat and long-term resident dies

Jocelyn Henderson, who passed away Saturday night, will be cremated in Al Ain

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KT Photo: M. Sajjad
KT Photo: M. Sajjad

By Sherouk Zakaria

Published: Sun 14 Nov 2021, 9:15 PM

Last updated: Tue 23 Nov 2021, 10:44 AM

Jocelyn Henderson, 100-year-old British expat who has been calling UAE home since 1976, passed away on Saturday night (November 13), a family member revealed.

Her granddaughter Kirsten Henderson said she suffered acid reflux while having dinner at her home in Abu Dhabi.

Jocelyn will be cremated at Al Ain Crematorium. “She never thought she will get to 100 years of age. She thought she was going to die many years ago,” said Kirsten.

The long-term UAE resident, whose journey started in the Middle East at the age of 38, leaves behind a long legacy of achievements and contributions to the UAE society. She and her late husband Edward Henderson, a former British diplomat, were well-respected figures in the country and closely connected to the royal family in Abu Dhabi since they had called the country home 45 years ago.

In her interview with Khaleej Times earlier this week, she spoke of her husband's insightful contributions to the discourse surrounding the independence of Gulf states that were greatly appreciated. The UAE’s Founding Father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, with whom Edward was a close friend and confidant, offered the couple a home of their choice in Abu Dhabi.

Kirsten noted Jocelyn's deep connection and pride in the UAE’s accelerated progress since the 1970s. Since she arrived with her husband, the couple saw the potential of the country and were committed to supporting the people of UAE as they led the country's growth.

Kirsten said, “As a diplomat, my grandfather made sure he provided all the support needed to the UAE. When he passed away, my grandmother thought it was her duty to continue that.”

She added, “As much as she was proud to be British, she was also proud to have been able to continue the rest of her life here in the UAE.”

Until her last minute, Jocelyn had taken it as a mission to contribute to the UAE.

Before her death, she was the warden emeritus at St Andrew’s Church, which she had contributed opening. Jocelyn was also an honorary member of ‘The Club’, Abu Dhabi’s first members club for expats and citizens, which opened in 1962. She was also a founder of Abu Dhabi’s first private Daly Library in 1978, which was opened when the city lacked a single bookshop.

Jocelyn had connections with many members of the ruling family, including Sheikh Shakhbut bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the Ruler of Abu Dhabi from 1928 to 1966; the UAE's Founding Father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan; his wife Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, Chairwoman of the General Women’s Union, President of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, and Supreme Chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation; and Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence.


100-year-old British expat has been calling UAE home since 1976

Sheikh Nahyan had paid her a visit when she turned 100.

Jocelyn, along with her husband, lived in Jerusalem, Qatar and Bahrain before settling in the UAE.

Paving her own path

While Jocelyn was mostly known to be a supporter of her husband’s role as a diplomat, Kirsten said she will remember her grandmother as a strong woman who carved her own path.

“She developed her own voice and became more involved, especially after my grandfather passed away.”

Kirsten said she inherited the love for the UAE from her grandparents and plans to continue her life here.

Jocelyn is survived by her daughter Lucy Henderson and her granddaughters Kirsten Henderson, and Miche and Gina Nicholls.

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