Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan – A leader of exceptional qualities

Shaikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan

Soon after assuming power on August 6, 1966 as the Ruler of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan underscored the importance of the union and remarked, “In harmony and in some sort of federation, we could follow the example of other developing countries”. The significance of the union and the need to work in cooperation with the other Emirates was thus ingrained in Sheikh Zayed’s thinking early on in his career. Although he was fully aware that federation was a novel concept in the region, he had a firm conviction that it could be established based on common ties between the different Emirates and the history and heritage that they had shared together for centuries. To put his ideas about the union, cooperation and mutual support into practice, Sheikh Zayed earmarked a sizeable part of his Emirate’s income from oil to the Trucial States Development Fund long before the inception of the UAE as a federal state.

There are very few people who are born statesmen, and Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan was one of them. The Federation of seven unitary states that form the UAE are lucky, indeed, to be blessed with a selfless soul such as the Founding Father of the Nation. He strived from scratch and built a republic that is now a power to be reckoned with. This was possible as he believed in the ideals of humanity, compassion and was benevolent to the core. Despite limited resources and a jaundiced international environment then, he eulogized a future for all, and embraced people from all nationalities to build a dynamic and robust nation. The UAE is an outcome of his sincerity, steadfast faith and the commitment to rise, come what may.

Father of the Nation

In 1971, Sheikh Zayed, working alongside the late Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, the then Ruler of Dubai, pioneered the efforts that led to the UAE’s establishment in December 1971, which politically consolidated the nascent nation in difficult circumstances. As an acknowledgement of his leadership, sagacity and his efforts, the late Sheikh Zayed was unanimously elected by his fellow Rulers of the Emirates to become the first President of the UAE, a title which earned him the local and enduring moniker of ‘Father of the Nation’.

Shaikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan

Sheikh Zayed was a man who understood that in order to build harmony, cohesion and solidarity among his people, he first needed to build their trust via constructive and personal interaction. He enjoyed getting out and meeting the local community, and was considered as a man of the people. He tasked his government with building capabilities in health, education and social welfare, seeing all UAE citizens as instrumental to the nation’s collective success. This philosophy remains evident across the country today.

Famous Quotes of Shaikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan

  1. I love the desert. I go there whenever I’m tired to restore my energy. I meet my Bedouin brothers whom I love with all my heart because they are still pure and clean, and they still hold on to their customs and traditions that stem from genuine Arab traditions and the teachings of Islam.
  2. I always wanted to serve my countrymen. I thought about their welfare even before I got to power and before I had the capabilities that Allah blessed us with the discovery of oil.
  3. Money for us isn’t an end in itself, but the means to serve the people.
  4. It was with wisdom, deliberation, and faith in Allah and the Nation that we were able to take firm steps towards progress, for we believe unity and solidarity are the pillars of strength for the people of this region.
  5. A true leader is that who thinks of his people as members of his own family. He cares for them and looks after them at all times.
  6. The state gives priority to developing of the human element and the welfare of citizens everywhere. Citizens are the true resource on this land.
  7. Responsibility is momentous; it is no easy feat. Let alone the responsibility for an entire population, which I have indeed shouldered throughout the years.

He was a legend and led from the front. He was an inspiring personality at home and abroad. His art of making friends was with a personal touch, as there are plenty of tales as to how he befriended, encouraged and helped leaders of several countries, as they looked up to him. He created an organic chemistry in the region, and rallied Arab and non-Arab states around the UAE, articulately making his new country the center-stage for businesses and transit. He believed in erecting a fool-proof infrastructure and worked for the emancipation of mankind, irrespective of race, caste and religion. His priority was healthcare, education and logistics. His acumen worked wonders, and today, the UAE is one of the world’s undisputed financial and business hubs.

Today, the UAE stands proud owing to his dedicated services, and the passionate vision to build a nation that is impregnable and prosperous. He has taught a great lesson, as he said: “No matter how many buildings, foundations, schools and hospitals we build, or how many bridges we raise, all these are material entities. The real spirit behind progress is the human spirit, the able man with his intellect and capabilities”.