The Year of Zayed

Sheikh Zayed Bin Sul­tan Al Nahyan’s im­pact on the econ­omy and so­ci­ety per­me­ates through this day


Sheikh Zayed Bin Sul­tan Al Nahyan’s pos­i­tive im­pact on the UAE’s econ­omy and so­ci­ety per­me­ates through this day

IF YOU EVER MEET ANY­ONE who got the chance to in­ter­act with Sheikh Zayed, he or she will tell of a story of a wise and hum­ble man who fo­cused on the suc­cess of the UAE with ex­cep­tional val­ues em­bed­ded in all his ac­tions.

Sheikh Zayed was a true fa­ther of the na­tion who took great care of his cit­i­zens and had high re­spect for peo­ple and worked dili­gently to­wards build­ing his great na­tion. Mean­while, my fa­ther was one of the pi­o­neers in set­ting up the UAE Air force Academy, and re­ceived the great­est re­spect for his con­tri­bu­tion from the great lead­er­ship and peo­ple of the UAE.

As a young child who could barely read, the pic­ture of Sheikh Zayed from a book my fa­ther gave had cap­ti­vated me. The sto­ries about him, told by my fa­ther and any­one who had met him, are of a man with a clear vi­sion of the fu­ture; a man who was ex­cep­tional in his lead­er­ship and in his dream for the UAE.

My best mem­ory of him is of a leader who was fair and just. A traf­fic con­sta­ble fol­lowed a speed­ing ve­hi­cle to Sheikh Zayed’s house and in­stead of get­ting up­set, Sheikh Zayed pro­moted the con­sta­ble. He was a fair man who be­lieved in equal­ity.

Ac­cord­ing to Sheikh Zayed, “A ruler is only there to serve his peo­ple and se­cure for them pros­per­ity and progress. To achieve this, he should live among his peo­ple to feel their wishes and know their prob­lems, and this can­not be achieved if he iso­lates him­self from them.”

He knew that the only way for the coun­try to have sol­i­dar­ity and har­mony was to show trust to his peo­ple through in­ter­ac­tion. He spent time with them and was, ac­cord­ing to every­one, a man of the peo­ple. He fos­tered unity by gen­uinely tak­ing care of the peo­ple.

Sheikh Zayed was born at a time when the UAE’s econ­omy was pri­mar­ily based on pearl div­ing and fish­ing. When he be­came its ruler, he built the foun­da­tions for the UAE econ­omy us­ing oil rev­enues. His vi­sion was to make the UAE a force to reckon with and in­deed it now ranks as the sec­ond largest econ­omy in the Arab world. His dream has been re­alised.

The UAE has con­tin­u­ally diver­si­fied into other sec­tors in­clud­ing tourism, ed­u­ca­tion, com­mu­nity well­be­ing, and health­care. This was the great leader’s vi­sion and was re­spon­si­ble for its progress and sta­bil­ity.

Sheikh Zayed also be­lieved in an en­light­ened and ed­u­cated na­tion. He wanted the youth to at­tain tech­ni­cal knowl­edge that would meet the needs of to­day’s skilled work­force. He also em­pow­ered women through ed­u­ca­tion and be­lieved that they should work in all sec­tors as long as it af­fords them the ap­pro­pri­ate re­spect.

He was suc­ceeded by lead­ers who share the same vi­sion. He al­ways be­lieved in peo­ple be­ing the real wealth that would even­tu­ally build a great na­tion. The UAE’s lead­er­ship have car­ried on his le­gacy and now the world is recog­nis­ing the coun­try’s great­ness too.

An un­cle of mine, who hap­pened to be Sheikh Zayed’s per­sonal pi­lot, told me that he pre­ferred to go for med­i­ta­tion in the desert. He was a hum­ble man who re­mained grounded in his roots in spite of all the suc­cess he brought to his na­tion. He was able to mod­ernise the UAE with­out hav­ing to com­pro­mise on its tra­di­tions, cul­ture and so­ci­ety.

Sheikh Zayed’s vi­sion, char­i­ta­ble per­son­al­ity, equal­ity, fair­ness, and hu­mil­ity have had a great im­pact on me, es­pe­cially since I grew up in the UAE. Sheikh Zayed’s title of the Fa­ther of the Na­tion is in­deed most right­ful for he set a great prece­dence for every­one to fol­low.

The en­vi­ron­ment re­mained Sheikh Zayed’s cen­tral fo­cus dur­ing his life

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