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