Late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan is the Founding Father of UAE. He served as the President of United Arab Emirates from the formation of the Federation on 2 December 1971 until his death on 2 November 2004. Sheikh Zayed was the youngest son of his father, Sheikh Sultan bin Zayed bin Khalifa Al Nahyan who ruled Abu Dhabi from 1922 to 1926. Known for his vision and determination, Sheikh Zayed did not have many luxuries in his early life. His character, as a man and a leader, developed from the hardships he faced during early childhood.
Let’s have a look at Sheikh Zayed’s inspiring life, which led to the formation of one of the most prosperous states in the Gulf region.
Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan was born in 1918 in Al Ain City, the largest metropolis in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi at that time. The Emirate, back then, depended on an economy based primarily on fishing and pearl diving. Some agriculture was also done on an oasis inland. Poverty and underdevelopment concerned Sheikh Zayed the most since his childhood. His character did not allow him to see the poor suffer. His action in his later life could be traced back to what he saw and experienced as a child.
A leader’s vision is what shapes his nation and Sheikh Zayed’s vision could be easily recognised with the development, peacekeeping, and values towards tolerance, that is the core essence of the UAE community and government entities. At a time when no Muslim nation or Arab state involved in global peace measures, Sheikh Zayed stepped up and gave aid and assistance to suffering nations.
Nothing was above humanity for him. After the first crude cargo was exported from Abu Dhabi in 1962, Sheikh Zayed started developmental planning while other oil-rich states were busy in attacking and acquiring kingdoms. It was Sheikh Zayed’s vision that brought the seven Emirates together and he was chosen unanimously as the President for five consecutive terms. Sheikh Zayed’s love for his family and UAE is also what led to women empowerment in UAE.
Sheikh Zayed is famous for his impeccable values among the Arabs. He was one of the few leaders who wanted to bring the modern world into the region and invest in everything, from healthcare to education. Sheikh Zayed’s achievements could be clearly seen in today’s UAE. It was his hard work and values of unity that prompted other Emirates to join hands and form the federation. Sheikh Zayed was also known for his Falconry skills. He had learned them during his early days when he travelled across the region which was mostly covered by deserts. He saw how poverty and lack of resources made people fall apart that inspired him to work for humanity with selfless goals.
After the British announced their exit from the Gulf in 1968, Sheikh Zayed advanced to action to quickly establish closer ties within the Emirates. He called for a federation with the Ruler of Dubai that would not only include seven Emirates that made the Trucial States but also Qatar and Bahrain.
The United Arab Emirates is considered among nations with strongest foundations. It would not have been made possible without the efforts of Sheikh Zayed that resulted in peace and harmony among Trucial States. Trade and brotherhood became easier as Emirates joined hands and UAE has now achieved a global position at a very young age.
UAE’s foreign policy is also considered the most liberal and modern in the GCC region. According to some top research organisations, UAE has the most balanced and supportive foreign policy in the world. It has become the hallmark of UAE, both regionally and internationally. Sheikh Zayed was among the most respected in Arab regions and was asked to mediate in several international disputes.
He earned a reputation as an international humanitarian and philanthropist. It is his legacy that guides everyone to follow the path of humanity and serve everyone around us. Peace and brotherhood are largely asserted in UAE’s agendas and remain clear for all with their government’s actions.
After Sheikh Zayed passed away on November 2, 2004, his eldest son His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the then Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, succeeded him to the Presidency of the UAE and leadership of Abu Dhabi. Sheikh Zayed’s death was mourned across the world as the passing of a global changemaker, who always resorted to non-violence and humanitarian measures.
An open-minded and open-hearted UAE community has been inculcated by Sheikh Zayed who taught people about the hardships one has to face to make something great. His vision has transformed UAE into a paradise with marvellous infrastructure and kindness in people. Tolerance among the local community is the reason why many expats from across the globe are residing and working in the United Arab Emirates.
Sheikh Zayed will always be remembered as a visionary humanitarian who changed the lives of millions of people. He will always be respected and appreciated around the world for the steps he took for the creation of UAE and the betterment of humanity.
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