Saturday, August 20, 2011

Remembering Sheikh Zayed

One of the first things I learned when I first came to the UAE was the importance of the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan to this country and its people. So, I always found it a bit weird that there wasn’t one special date in the calendar dedicated to this exceptional leader and his legacy.

Now, all this has changed. As of this year, Sheikh Zayed will be remembered on every Ramadan 19 (Sheikh Zayed died on November 2, 2004, which fell on Ramadan 19) through a series of special programs and tributes.

For those of you who have never heard of Sheikh Zayed, here are a few reasons why he is so adored and respected by the people of the UAE and other nations.

Sheikh Zayed…
-         called for the formation of a union between the different Emirates back in 1971 – he is known as the founding father of the UAE

-         placed the UAE on the map as the Arab world’s longest-serving president - three decades

-         was known for visionary ideas, that continue to inspire leaders today

-         was a role model for his people, who continue to practice his ideals

-        utilized local resources for the benefit of the people, including education, health, housing and employment

-         supported women’s rights and their participation in building the nation

-         lived a simple life, close to nature

-         promoted the need to protect and conserve the environment

-         showed religious tolerance towards all other faiths

-         treated everyone equally and went above and beyond to support the needy throughout the world.

Popular quotes by Sheikh Zayed:

"He who does not know his past cannot make the best of his present and future, for it is from the past that we learn.”

"It is my duty as the leader of the young people of this country to encourage them to work and to exert themselves in order to raise their own standards and to be of service to the country. The individual who is healthy and of a sound mind and body but who does not work commits a crime against himself and society.”

"Islam affords women their rightful status, and encourages them to work in all sectors, as long as they are afforded appropriate respect.”

"We must not rely on oil alone as the main source of our national income. We have to diversify the sources of our revenue and construct economic projects that will ensure a free, stable and dignified life for the people.”

"Islam desists violence practised by terrorists who kill their brethren and commit all despicable actions under the shelter of religion. Islam dissociates itself strictly from these people and their actions.”

"Wealth is not money. Wealth lies in men. This is where true power lies, the power we value. This is what has convinced us to direct all our resources to building the individual, and to using the wealth which God has provided us in the service of the nation.”

"On land and in the sea, our fore-fathers lived and survived in this environment. They were able to do so because they recognised the need to conserve it, to take from it only what they needed to live, and to preserve it for succeeding generations.”

"Future generations will be living in a world that is very different from that to which we are accustomed. It is essential that we prepare ourselves and our children for that new world.”


  1. In my first visit to UAE I was dramatically impressed by the figure of Sheik Zayed,his love of family and people and his unique and inspiring vision of future.
    Thank you for your post about him. Regina

  2. It is very impressive how Sheikh Zayed was years ahead of his time. Only few people can antecipate and plan the future as he did forty years ago.
    Visiting Abu Dhabi for the first time in 2009 I realized how important he was for the construction of the modern United Arab Emirates.