Today, the 19th of Ramadan 1434 Hijri, will mark the ninth death anniversary of the founding father of the UAE, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the builder of the UAE's renaissance and pride. His spirit will be alive and immortal in the memory and the conscience of the nation and citizens and the hearts and souls of Arab and Islamic nation, after a life devoted to work with dedication and sincerity to serve his country, his people, Arab and Islamic countries and humanity as a whole.
Sheikh Zayed maintained his generosity for 66 years in the interest of the nation, from when he became the Ruler's Representative of Al Ain city in the eastern region in 1946, to assuming the reins of power in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi on the August 6, 1966, and subsequently being elected President of the country after the announcement of the formation of the UAE on December 2, 1971.
Sheikh Zayed devoted his life to building his country and serving its citizens and dedicated himself to helping to achieve their dreams and aspirations.
The magnificent celebrations of the 41st National Day last year embodied clearly and honestly the UAE peoples' love for late Sheikh Zayed. We recall with gratitude the efforts of our founding father, said the President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
"On the 2nd of December, we celebrate our 41st National Day, marking a great occasion to enhance the culture of citizenry, deepen our love for our nation, confirm our enduring loyalty and strengthen cohesion and communication between the people and its leadership.
"On this historic day, we recall, with gratitude, the efforts of our founding father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, and his late brothers the members of the Supreme Council, whose unstinting efforts led to the upholding of the principles of a country of which we are all proud and defend its sovereignty. We pray that their souls may rest in peace.
"The declaration of the Union represented a historical moment. Our forefathers formed this country based on piety and the most noble of ethics, devoting themselves to the interests of the people and the nation. We are following their path, affirming that justice is the basis of governance, ensuring the rule of law, achieving social equality and providing a decent life: all these form the pillars of society and are fundamental rights, guaranteed by the Constitution and protected by a fair and independent judiciary.
"On this day, we call for further collective efforts to strengthen our march. Protection of the Union is an indisputable national objective. Awareness, unity and cohesion are required in order to uphold its values, to consolidate its pillars, and to sustain continuous co-operation between the federal and local agencies." A year earlier, President Khalifa said, "The festive atmosphere in all parts of the country reflected the spirit of the Union, which was instilled in all of us by the founding father, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, and the pioneer rulers.
"The Union that is with us today, in terms of political achievement and socio-economic reality, was neither a gift or a grant and was not an easy achievement. Rather, it was the fruit of a good tree planted by our fathers who dreamed of the idea with hope, took care of it with their dedication to raise the flag of the Union as high as they could and strengthened its pillars. They are really the spirit of the Union; from their life and history, generations will draw lessons and will continue to carry out the responsibility under the eyes of a glorious nation that takes pride in its past, its giving present and its promising future", he added.
Sheikh Zayed has not been forgotten either in the memory of the homeland or the conscience of the nation's leadership and people; the approach he laid down in all areas of work remains a beacon guiding the leadership and the nation to follow his footsteps. The memory of his spirit remains present in every achievement accomplished by the UAE on national and global levels.
In a statement made on the occasion of celebrating the top ranking in terms of Government efficiency, which the UAE achieved in the Global Competitiveness Yearbook 2013, Sheikh Khalifa said, "On this day, we recall with gratitude the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan and his brothers the founding fathers. We are enjoying today the fruits of their hard work and dedication. Our country is ranked number one globally in government efficiency, social cohesion, and attitudes and values. Additionally, the UAE is ranked fifth globally in the Employment and sixth in Management Practices, achieving an impressive progression and becoming among the top 10 most competitive nations in the world."
The UAE people deserve to be happy: Sheikh Mohammed
His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, on the same occasion said in a speech to the Cabinet meeting dated June 3, 2013, that, "The UAE people deserve to be happy and we are here to deliver achievements that make the people glad and proud of the nation."
Sheikh Mohammed continued "The achievement brought back memories of how the late founding fathers, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan and Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, sat in the desert discussing the creation of the Union."
"The UAE as a country was born amidst many suspicions and tremendous challenges that our fathers faced. Its structure was built and the country takes the lead amongst the community of nations," he added.
Sheikh Mohammed said that President Khalifa was maintaining the course of the founding fathers, taking care of every citizen and bringing development to every corner of the nation.
"Khalifa is our leader, who is unifying efforts, mobilising energies, supporting initiatives and building the nation," Sheikh Mohammed added, "We have placed our confidence in UAE citizens, and today we are reaping the fruits of excellence in many fields."
He went on to say that employees have huge energies that should be released through continuous development and change. He emphasised that "the UAE people will not be satisfied except with first place, Zayed and Rashid instilled on us the love of being No. 1, whenever we climb a peak we look forward for another one."
Zayed - a pioneering leader and statesman
Men of science and religion, advisors, lecturers and Imams who come to the UAE as guests during the Holy Month of Ramadan to speak with worshippers or hold lecture series, praise the memory of Sheikh Zayed, praise his work that has become immortalised in history, and his immense achievements inside and outside the country. They praise his wisdom, mercy and humanity that spread to countries around the world, both Muslim and non-Muslim, making it in the eyes of other leaders an example of the wise generations of philanthropists and benefactors.
The whole world agreed that Sheikh Zayed was a pioneering leader and statesman, enjoying strength with wisdom and foresight, who supported issues of Arab and Islamic nations in order to achieve unity and solidarity among peoples. He defended their rights and put forward a fair stance on global issues and numerous initiatives at the national level to be involved in humanitarian work to serve mankind. The world in turn much appreciated the efforts made by Zayed in the call to spread the culture of tolerance and moderation in Islam and to generate dialogue and rapprochement between cultures, civilizations and religions, in order to build a secure and prosperous future for humanity.
The world was shocked and saddened by the news of the passing of Sheikh Zayed because he was highly respected as one of the prominent leaders as shown by the wisdom, foresight and vision which reflected the positive results of his efforts for development, peace and stability in the world.
The General Assembly of the United Nations in an unprecedented initiative on November 4th, 2011, established a memorial ceremony when the President of the Assembly and representatives from states all over the world held a meeting at which the speakers reviewed the political aspects of life, the wise diplomacy and the great achievements of the late Sheikh Zayed, both in terms of building the state of the United Arab Emirates, and the completion of its modern renaissance, and in the areas of international cooperation, humanitarian action and provision of generous assistance to poor and developing countries.
The world appreciates his devotion
Expressing their appreciation of his devotion and tireless efforts to promote the ties of brotherhood, friendship and mutual respect between nations and peoples of the world, they stressed that his memory will remain an inexhaustible source of inspiration to his people and to all who work hard, to the issues of peace, upholding human rights and for the happiness of people.
The Secretary-General of the United Nations at the time, Kofi Annan, described the late Sheikh Zayed as one of the prominent leaders in the world who devoted his life and his tireless efforts, since taking the reins of power in the UAE, in order to build the nation and the state. He said that the wisdom of Sheikh Zayed and his deep faith in diplomacy to resolve a crisis and his generosity in providing aid to developing countries, enabled him to be popular in his country, the Muslim world and on the international stage.
He confirmed that Sheikh Zayed was a righteous friend of the United Nations, and always sought to strengthen relations between his country and the international organization. The Secretary-General of the Arab League at the time, Amr Moussa, described the passing of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan as a great loss for Arabs. He said that Sheikh Zayed was a distinct leader in the interest of advancement of his country, to build a modern Emirates and unify Arab ranks. He had, over the decades, shown great honour on joint Arab action in support and endorsement of the Arab League.
Prof. Dr. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, Secretary-General of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), said that the death of the late Sheikh Zayed was a great loss, not only for the United Arab Emirates, but for the Arab and Islamic nation and the world. He said that Sheikh Zayed's distinguished and unique personality had a significant impact on the course of political events in the Middle East and the Muslim world and has had a leading role in the global peace movement.
He added Sheikh Zayed built a state and a nation and what we are seeing today shows tangible significant progress, with the spread of prosperity and happiness among the people of the United Arab Emirates. That the people enjoy security and stability is a testament to his wisdom, as is his experience and success of the national policies.
The Secretary-General stated that Sheikh Zayed was the driving force behind many charity projects around the world and there is no Arab or Muslim country that is not acquainted with the positive spirit and the good of Sheikh Zayed.
Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan was born in 1918 in the Qasr Al Hosn in Abu Dhabi. He was the youngest of four children born to Sheikh Sultan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who ruled Abu Dhabi between 1922 and 1926.
The 11th in the series of rulers from the Al Nahyan family, he was known for his courage, wisdom and ability to establish security, peace and order. He was fond of poetry and folk songs, and had interests in farming, water and irrigation. He even built the traditional irrigation system, Falaj, in Al Ain which resulted in the boom of village farming in the early sixties.
Sheikh Zayed opened eyes amid the harsh environment and the hard life experienced by residents of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi in the heart of the desert and on the shores of the coasts, at that stage of its history, where he began to see the origins of Islam and through memorising the Holy Quran, and to weave the pattern of meanings and his approach and vision for the future.
Then began the second phase of his life, when he moved from Abu Dhabi to Al Ain, where he showed his passion for the traditional characteristics of Bedouin life, like hunting, falconry, equestrian and camel riding, and archery.
He spent the early days of his youth living in the city of Al Ain and its suburbs, growing up among the hills, mountains and deserts, drawing a lot from its serenity and openness and forming the beginnings of his philosophy in life.
When he became a young man, Sheikh Zayed mastered an array of military skills. However, at the same time, his great interest in culture, literature, poetry and history led him to learn more of these things. It was a most enjoyable time for him to sit with elderly councils to listen and absorb what they knew of the conduct of parents and grandparents with their tales of heroism.
For Sheikh Zayed, the idea of personal leadership began to crystallize and appear clearly during this era at the beginning of the forties. As he became the ruler's representative of the Eastern Region of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi in the year 1946, Sheikh Zayed showed great potential in the management of the city and its affiliated areas, working to promote a culture of self- initiative to do good for coming generations and enhancing security and community cohesion among members of the community. He was greatly interested in agriculture and spent a lot of time developing an irrigation system, Falaj, for Al Ain using underground spring water - an innovation still used to this day.
The first school opened in Al Ain in 1959 and is called, appropriately, the Al Nahyan School . He went on to establish Al Ain Hospital, a commercial market and a limited network of roads, despite the scarcity of financial resources at the time, and since then has gained the love and trust of his countrymen.
Colonel (later Sir) Hugh Boustead, the British political representative at the time, described a picture of social life in that era and the people's love and loyalty for Sheikh Zayed in his book "Morning Breeze" saying, "I was amazed by many of the crowd that has always been massing around him in the Buraimi Oasis, surrounded by respect and attention. He was always nice and would talk with everyone - he was very generous with his money and I was amazed by of all the work done in his hometown of Al Ain and in the entire region for the benefit of the people. The construction of canals to increase the water supply to irrigate orchards and digging wells." British Capt.
Anthony Shepherd, in his book, "Arabian Adventure", expressed his impressions of Sheikh Zayed in that period when he said, "He was a man admired and had the loyalty of the Bedouin who live in the surrounding desert and the Buraimi Oasis. He was undoubtedly the most powerful figure in the Trucial States and I would go to visit him every week in his fort."
British adventurer and travel writer, Wilfred Thesiger, in his book "Arabian Sands" is quoted as saying, " Zayed as the leader of a large family always sits to listen to people's problems and then find the right solution, sorting out the disputes, with satisfaction for all in a manner characterized by intelligence, wisdom and justice. " Zayed ambitions and dreams Zayed did not rest his ambitions and aspirations, having accomplished reforms in the city of Al Ain, including the achievement of stability in the region, he patiently contemplated means to improve circumstances for citizens and looked forward with confidence and hope for the future. He expressed his ambitions and aspirations to achieve these goals by saying, "I had many dreams, the dream of our land keeping pace with the modern world and civilization. I could not do anything then but I was confident that the dreams would come true one day." He took his first trip outside the country in 1953, traveling to Britain and the United States of America, which was then followed by visits to a number of Arab and Islamic countries.
These tours to a number of important capitals echoed widely around the political and media world, and were met with great interest, especially as they coincided with the start of oil exploration in the Emirate and the announcement of the discovery of oil in commercial quantities in 1958. This was followed by the first export shipment of crude oil produced from the Umm Shaif field in 1962.
Allegiance to Zayed In 1966, Abu Dhabi witnessed the historic Abu Dhabi Declaration, a decision to pledge allegiance to the Al Nahyan family, led by Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the ruler of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.
Thus began a historic turning point in the country
From the very start of his reins of power, Sheikh Zayed announced his intentions to harness the proceeds of oil wealth to build a nation and achieve progress for the citizens. He said that, "If God has given us wealth, the first thing that we are committed to is the satisfaction of God and give thanks by directing the country's wealth to its people" Sheikh Zayed said that like a father who takes care of his family, he takes his children by the hand to overcome barriers and make their way through life successfully. The building and construction everywhere, against indomitable odds, show the determination and the will of Sheikh Zayed who dedicated himself to the prosperity of his country and the happiness of its people.
The city of Abu Dhabi was a sandy desert island surrounded by the waters of the Gulf on all sides. There was only a small group of houses and it lacked the most basic services of roads, water or electricity, schools, hospitals and other services essential to the population.
The needs of the people for goods and foodstuff in Abu Dhabi was met by large ships anchored off the Abu Dhabi Corniche, there were no ports or any kind of infrastructure of roads, bridges, airports and modern communications. As such, citizens were living a hard and difficult life suffering from the deprivation of essential services.
Harness the wealth for the nation-building This was a matter of sincere concern to Sheikh Zayed, who said, "I always think of a time before the potential that God blessed us with the advent of oil. That in the past we suffered with a lack of services and facilities enjoyed by others and now it is time to compensate our people from what God has given us ".
The levels of accomplishment and years of successive achievements had began. Sheikh Zayed utilised oil wealth to lift the Emirate of Abu Dhabi out of the economic and social mire it had been in.
He stressed that "The best interests of the nation, above all else, must be given priority attention and can only be served by the exclusion of any other interest." So began development and construction operations, establishing the rules of sound government, management and institution-building, financial and organizational management, utilities and government departments that oversee the implementation of development projects.
Revenue from oil enabled the establishment and development of many projects and infrastructure services. Work began on the implementation of ambitious programmes and other long-term comprehensive developments targeting various aspects of life, change and modernisation were implemented to catch up with civilization and progress. There is no point in the money, as Sheikh Zayed says, "If you do not make use of it for the benefit of the people."
Science, education, culture and women empowerment
The late Sheikh Zayed believed that science is the pillar of civilisation and nations would achieve progress only through their national manpower. So he gave maximum care to science, education, culture and particularly women empowerment.
"I am waiting for the day when I see a female doctor, female engineer and female diplomat," Sheikh Zayed said.
Sheikh Zayed also ordered the increase of teachers' salaries, encouraged students by granting them regular cash bonuses, secured breakfast meals at school, so as to motivate them for better achievements.
He always reiterated; "Intellectual human recourses are the cornerstone of the advancement of nation and progress is measured by the educational standard in a nation." '' The best investment should be in creating educated generations, we have to race the time and make faster steps in gaining knowledge more than anything else." He also said that science and culture are the backbone of the progress and building nations, adding that without scientific progress, there would be no civilisations, advanced industry or agriculture, which meet the needs of the people.
In the light of this approach, Sheikh Zayed established in 1977 "The UAE University in Al Ain", to be the first higher education institution for thought and academic field, since then the number of universities and higher education institutions reached more than 80 universities in the country.
He also stressed that universities were and still the driving force of progress and civilisation.
Sheikh Zayed urged the educated citizens to gain more knowledge, saying, " Science is the candle that lightens the way to future. He who claims that he reached the top in education is an ignorant.'' In the same context, Sheikh Zayed was keen to spread the culture, knowledge and encourage book fairs, until they are annually held nationwide.
He always says the book is the vessel of knowledge, culture, civilisation, literature and arts.
"Nations cannot be measured by wealth only, but by their cultural power and the book is the base of culture as well." Following that approach in boosting values of education, building the human resources and cultural dialogue, President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan launched the Dh7 million Sheikh Zayed Book Award in 2006,which aimed to encourage innovatorsand thinkers in the knowledge, arts and Arabic culture.
The Award includes several branches such as: Cultural Personality of the Year Award, Development and Building of Nations Award, Zayed Award for Children's Literature, Young Author's Award, the Zayed Award for Translation, and other awards in several fields.
In order to commemorate the anniversary of the late Sheikh Zayed , the Sheikh Zayed National Museum at the heart of the Saadiyat Cultural District will be inaugurated in 2016. The museum will feature several themes such as heritage, environment and education and others.
Youth care and welfare
The late Sheikh Zayed gave special attention to the youth. " We are waiting for more from the young people, wishing they would contribute to making huge achievements, which will turn this country into a developed country, to be one on par with the advanced nations", he said. He kept urging them to gain knowledge and ethics in order to contribute to serving their country, taking advantage from the past and the dire conditions, experienced by their ancestors and forefathers, to explore the future.
''Thanks to our forefathers' persistence and their abilities of enduring burdens of tough life, we would not have all these gifts'', adding '' Our recent luxurious life is a victory over the sufferings of the past." He reiterated "If we had a look to the history of our ancestors, we would discover that they protected our homeland without capabilities or qualifications, since they had patience and fought drought, hunger, want and poverty in order to have this land." He added that the new generation must know how much suffering our ancestors had gone through, since this will give them patience and determination to continue their march, which embodied the national aspirations, following tough times.
Sheikh Zayed urged the youth to benefit from the history in order to pursue the needs of the future. Sheikh Zayed was keen to benefit from the capabilities of the youth, urging them to work hard and be productive, and to enter the labour marke.
"Work is very important for the youth since it builds the citizens and nation's renaissance is made by the hands of its citizens." He added that giving more care to the youth should be our top priority, since they are the builders of the future, pointing out that the youth are the true wealth, the shield of the nation and the protector. In the light of his care to the young people, he established the (Marriage Fund) in order to support and encourage them to build a coherent family, in addition to curbing the phenomenon of getting married to foreign women.
Sheikh Zayed's future vision was achieved due to the success witnessed by the Marriage Fund. Since its establishment in 1993, it has succeeded in bolstering the social cohesion and strengthening the sense of belonging and national identity among UAE citizens.
Meanwhile, he advised the youth to avoid injudicious spending of money or borrowing from banks, stressing that they should improve their income diligently and with decent work, saying, " It is hard for me to see young citizens trapped in debt as the dignity of the citizen is the dignity of the homeland and I am very keen to meet their needs for better life." Women's Development The late Sheikh Zayed paid proper attention to empowerment of women, saying, "The woman is half of the society, any country which pursues development should not leave her in poverty or illiteracy." He said "I am on the woman's side; I always say this in order to uphold her right to work and participate in the building process of her country." He outlined a clear and comprehensive vision for the woman's role and her position in the community.
"The woman's participation in the development process is very important, where Islam respects her, puts her in the appropriate stature. I encourage woman to work in jobs that suit her nature and preserve her dignity as a mother." He also urged women to involve in work. He said ''From the beginning we were aware of the importance of women's presence in the field of national work nowadays." He added that women in our country have attained huge achievements within the General Women's Union and other women's associations, which work actively so as to enhance women's role on the national and global arenas.
"The late Sheikh Zayed encouraged and supported the establishment of women's associations and provided financial and kind assistance for them, since then, a huge number of women's societies were established. The founding father also called for opening up all work fields for women in the light of the Arab traditions and customs, in addition to supporting their right to enter the political life and exercise their full right to participating in decision-making." He said the Emirati woman is a full partner to the man in all walks of life and he granted her the right to be a Federal National Council (FNC) member.Today, women hold cabinet portfolios and other senior and leadership positions.
The UAE constitution was one of the first constitutions around the world which guaranteed woman equality with the man, where she enjoys the same rights and duties with him, including education and work rights, as well as the right to own and run businesses in addition to other privileges.
Thanks to Sheikh Zayed's vision, women occupy high stature and decision- making positions in the society Sheikh Zayed expressed his satisfaction of what women achieved, saying "The great achievements of the Emirati women in a short period of time, makes me happy, since we started to gain its fruitful results.'' The women's achievements continued in the light of the vision of the late Sheikh Zayed, where the Emirati women occupy four seats in Federal National Council (FNC), two female ambassadors in Spain and Sweden, Consuls General in Asian and European countries and other 65 female diplomats at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as others in the judicial, public prosecution, military, aviation, air and civil defence fields.
Shura Approach In addition to other attributes of wise leadership, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan was characterized by two important and outstanding merits, firstly; the open-door policy in the democratic practices. Secondly; the Shura principle with the UAE citizens.
By the adoption of the first approach, he aimed to motivate citizens' national feelings so as to participate actively in the responsibilities of national work.
Leadership in his concept is deemed to be a continuous and hard work in serving the citizens. he Shura principle, adopted by the late Sheikh Zayed, contributed to strengthening pillars of the Union and interaction with the Emiratis through the open-door policy.
He was keen to hold meetings with the UAE citizens in various regions and places in the country such as: work sites, desert, cities or regular field tours nationwide. "My door is always open and it will remain so, my wish is to support anyone who has a complaint, he can talk to me at any time" said Sheikh Zayed.
During his field tours nationwide, Sheikh Zayed was keen to meet the Emiratis to meet their needs, get assured of their life conditions, in addition to following up work progress at urban and services projects.
He reviewed the achievements, pertaining to services to meet the needs of the UAE citizens, saying, "My role is to make you happy, our aim is to develop our country. Allah has granted the UAE people this wealth and it is for every Emirati citizen." Sheikh Zayed adopted that approach out of an overall philosophy for shouldering his responsibilities.
Sheikh Zayed said "The Ruler should meet his people continuously, no barriers between him and his citizens,'' adding ''a Ruler was born to serve his country and citizens and to secure their needs, welfare and progress, and all these cannot be achieved if he isolated himself from the citizens."
He used to urge officials to make field tours so as to meet the needs of the people.
The Shura principle
The Shura principle of Sheikh Zayed was based on established Islamic values. He said "The Shura principle is derived from Allah instructions, and he who does not obey the directives of Allah would be a loser. My philosophy states that everything is dominated by Allah and a human being should work hard and depend on Allah, since everything is controlled by His will." Sheikh Zayed believed that Emiratis should shoulder their responsibilities at the national work.
"Our goal in life is to achieve justice, right and support the weak people. I believe we should distribute responsibilities among the Emiratis, since Islam called for democracy and justice," he added.
The late Sheikh Zayed encouraged constructive criticism, which targets the public interest. "I support objective criticism and I reject sweet talk if it contradicted with public interest," he said.
Decent housing to Emiratis
The tours Sheikh Zayed made on regular basis to all the seven emirates constituted one of the foundations for the renaissance of the country. The late founding father of the UAE federation dedicated all his time and efforts to the provision of decent housing to Emiratis, and personally oversaw the construction of housing complexes the locations of which he also personally determined. These complexes have become cities with the best infrastructure and the best education, health and entertainment facilities.
Sheikh Zayed was also interested in expanding the green areas, increasing agricultural production in order to improve the living standards of citizens, constructing modern and well-serviced road networks to link cities and develop remote areas and islands.
He says: "I am entrusted with achieving the welfare of citizens. My brothers the Rulers and I are keen on sparing no effort for the benefit of citizens and for the achievement of further progress and higher stature for the country." The unique approach of Sheikh Zayed as a statesman is revealed by his own words: "I want officials to see me with their own eyes, any time and without any barriers, as I am working, so that all officials would follow this approach."
After some people asked him not to exhaust himself making these tours to construction sites, Sheikh Zayed said: "Some people suggested that I leave the following of projects, and the checking of work progress, to responsible officials, so that I don't exhaust myself at noon in summer days. My answer was that I am the key responsible for this, so how can I leave it to officials without personal follow up of each step in order to avoid failures? In fact, I noticed failures at some work sites where I looked forward to optimal and fully-efficient implementation." Specifying the responsibilities and the concerns of a just ruler, he said: How can I relieve my conscience if I do not monitor the progress of work at development projects, and if I, for that matter, do not make sure whether these projects progress smoothly or not? Therefore, I prefer to get tired and to have only few hours of rest so that I make sure that national achievements are perfect." Sheikh Zayed always urged officials and ministers to pursue self-denial, go for field work and personally meet their subordinates at workplaces and sites to get first-hand knowledge of the facts that are needed for the process of national development. He also urged citizens to see and meet ministers and officials face-to-face at workplaces and sites and to discuss their demands with them.
This approach has become a model for field work and communication with citizens across the UAE, and also a model for political leadership.
Sheikh Mohammed on 19th May 2013, said, "The late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan and the late Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum were keen on pursuing the open-door policy and meeting people wherever they went. They closely looked into the people's needs. The leadership always had people as its top priority." He also pointed out that the late Sheikh Zayed and his brethren, the rulers of the emirates, established a state of institutions and law, and built a model union on the basis of justice, tolerance and reconciliation whereby they gave the world a fine example of wise leadership. In the UAE, the relationship between leaders and their people is a unique and exceptional one, and can be described as the most advanced in the world today." In the same spirit, His Highness General Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, said on 4th May 2013, at the conclusion of a tour to areas across the UAE: "The wise leadership pursues the policy laid down by the founding father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, to reach out to citizens in their places of residence in order to probe and fulfill their needs.
This is based on the leadership's belief in the vital importance of strengthening ties of cohesion and loyalty to the nation." Social Justice In his speech before the Federal Supreme Council on 30th May 1996, Sheikh Zayed made clear his keen interest in promoting social justice and caring for the interests of citizens. He said :" Our first duty as ruler is to join hands to elevate the standards of living of our people, and the major responsibility of caring for the nation and nationals rests on my shoulders. Fulfilling duties is imposed by Allah and following up is the responsibility of all people." "There are many things that perhaps do pass my attention as the first official responsible of this state, and it is your duty to draw my attention to any failure as you are the source of help for me to fulfill my duty. It is only you that I will blame, as rulers and partners in responsibility. In this respect, I will readily accept anything." "Shouldering the responsibility of leading people is a difficult mission. If Allah favored some people over others in terms of wealth for instance, then one should see this wealth, not as an ownership but as a wealth harnessed by Allah to serve people." "Rulers are the guardians of their people and should fulfill their duties, honor their responsibilities and harness all the wealth granted by Allah for the sake of the well-being, security and stability of their people," Sheikh Zayed added.
He also urged the rulers "to work towards promoting social justice and equality so that no ruling family is allowed to control the wealth and capabilities of peoples. Ruling families should be equal to all others in terms of rights, duties and responsibilities." "A leader should believe that he is entrusted with the people's wealth and should be equal with his people and that he should treat himself and his people in the same way." In his annual tour to the emirates in 1997, Sheikh Zayed affirmed that the UAE will continue to make progress towards achieving nation-wide prosperity for each and every individual of the people.
On 5th April 1998, he gave orders to provide housing and farms for all nationals, who do not have income across the country.
In 1996, the Zayed Housing Programme was launched with an annual budget worth Dh640 million (now over Dh1.4 billion) to provide housing for nationals in all the emirates with the aim of improving living standards and contributing to their social stability. Tens of thousands of Emirati families benefited from the Programme.
Zayed the environmentalist: Sheikh Zayed's interest in environmental protection and development was underpinned by his strong belief in the need for striking a balance between environment and national development, and in preserving the right of generations to enjoy living in a clean, healthy and safe environment.
Under the leadership of Sheikh Zayed, and as part of its sustained efforts to strike a balance between economic growth and healthy environment, the UAE embarked on massive environmental programmes during the year 2003. These programmes were conceived in line with the vision of Sheikh Zayed who has always stressed the need for a sustainable and eco-friendly development that would take into account the right of the future generations to inherit a clean environment.
Sheikh Zayed affirmed that "the great interest the UAE takes in environmental conservation emanates from the fact that it constitutes an integral part of our history and heritage. The forefathers lived in this area and innately adapted well to the sea and land environment taking from it only what needed and leaving the rest of it for the generations to come." In his speech to the nation on the 32nd National Day, Sheikh Zayed said: "Since the establishment of our State, we have been working to protect the environment and wildlife, to enact all the relevant legislations and to construct the projects which have put the UAE at the forefront in environmental conservation, and created a global model in this field. These achievements should provide an incentive for all of us, the youth in particular, to continue to take care of the environment and to keep it clean and healthy. For if we don't do that, we will run the risk of destroying the resources, which Allah has bestowed on us, and which we share with our children and grandchildren." In his opening speech at the second Asian Ministerial Conference on the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) Implementation, in Abu Dhabi in June 2003, Sheikh Zayed was keen on highlighting the environmental considerations of planning and implementing overall development in the country.
He said: "In the UAE, where desert forms 75 per cent of the total area, we have been able to co-exist with this environment and to adapt ourselves with the limited resources for many years. Thanks to the sincere efforts of Emiratis, our country has been able to overcome the barriers and to achieve what experts described as an impossible task. As green areas started to expand, the desert receded. This is manifest today in the heart of the desert, with large areas of farms, gardens and millions of trees and plants bearing testimony to the greatness of the achievement." In his keynote speech at the same conference in 2003, Hama Arba Diallo, the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), said the selection of the UAE as the venue of the conference had not come as a surprise, considering the country's major achievements in combating desertification." "For more than three decades, Sheikh Zayed, the President of this flourishing country, has been an advocate and supporter of the concept of sustainable development-the very same concept that lies at the heart of our activities and discussions here at the meeting." One of Sheikh Zayed's most remarkable achievements was undoubtedly the planting of 100 million trees in the UAE, in an effort to stop the encroachment of sand onto agricultural lands and urban areas. Addressing the Environment and Energy Exhibition and Conference in Abu Dhabi on February 2, 2003, the President called for unified Arab work in the field of environmental protection.
Sheikh Khalifa said: "The late Sheikh Zayed has laid down concrete foundations for striking harmony and balance between sustainable development and the protection and conservation of the environment. He worked unprecedented miracle by turning the desert into green lush farms, forests, oases and parks. We will work hard to preserve the civilisational legacy left behind by our father and leader." The late Sheikh Zayed established the Sir Bani Yas, a natural island located 250 km southwest of Abu Dhabi, as a wildlife reserve and sanctuary. The Island was originally home to Arabia's largest wildlife reserve. Thanks to decades of intensive conservation work and ecological investment, the reserve is now home to thousands of large free-roaming animals and several million trees and plants. Among the Arabian species, there are Arabian Oryx, giraffes, ostriches, emus and antelopes.
In recognition of the UAE's efforts to reintroduce Arabian Oryx, Abu Dhabi was selected in 1999 as the seat of an inter-governmental body known as the Coordinating Committee for the Conservation of the Arabian Oryx, which oversees the coordination of conservation efforts for this species within the Arabian Peninsula.
In 2000, the UAE hosted a workshop on 'Conservation of Marine Turtles in the Western Indian Ocean Region (WIOR): A Dialogue for an Effective Regional Management', organised by Marine Turtle Specialist Group (MTSG) for the Western Indian Ocean Region, an affiliate of affiliate of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
In addition, the Abu Dhabi Global Environmental Data Initiative (AGEDI) was launched in 2002, at the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as a Type II Initiative. Today, AGEDI works with partners and stakeholders throughout the world to achieve a more sustainable future through �best-impact' access to environmental and societal data. The initiative focuses on the support of developing countries and emerging economies.
The Zayed Future Energy Prize
The Zayed Future Energy Prize represents the vision of the late founding father who championed environmental stewardship. This annual award celebrates achievements that reflect impact, innovation, long-term vision and leadership in renewable energy and sustainability. We invite you to be a part of this vision and our commitment to finding solutions that will meet the challenges of climate change, energy security and the environment.
The US$1 million Zayed International Prize for the Environment was founded to recognise and encourage environmental achievements supporting and promoting environmental research and sustainable development in line with the vision and philosophy of the late Sheikh Zayed.
The US$3.5 million Zayed Future Energy Prize recognises the world's innovators - honouring them for their impact, their innovation, their leadership and their long-term vision. It also rewards demonstrated solutions that address the global challenges of climate change, energy security, energy access, and economic development.
Hama Arba Diallo, then the Executive Secretary of UNCCD, said the selection of the UAE to host the conference was a token of appreciation to the achievements made by the country in combating desertification and conserving environment.
He paid tribute to the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan who had, for over three decades, championed the concept of sustainable development and who spearheaded the achievement of planting 100 million trees, in addition to 48 million date palm trees in the UAE.
President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan said Sheikh Zayed had laid the foundation for a successful combination between sustainable development and environment protection and made an unprecedented move by transforming the arid desert into a lush green oasis.
Thanks to the attention given to environment protection, the UAE has gained a global reputation as a country that protects wildlife sanctuaries and promotes research for preservation of endangered species such as Arabian oryx, Arabian tiger, dugongs and turtles.
Sheikh Zayed established Sir Bani Yas Island, a 230-square kilometer sanctuary off the coasts of Abu Dhabi. The island is home to various types of flora and fauna, including rare and endangered species.
Sheikh Zayed's environmental initiatives earned the country a respected stature. In 2000, the UAE was selected to host general secretariat of the liaison office of the World Wildlife Fund for Nature and in the same year, the country hosted a workshop on "Conservation of Marine Turtles in the Western Indian Ocean Region (WIOR).
In 2002, the World Summit for Sustainable Development in Johannesburg adopted the Abu Dhabi Global Environmental Data Initiative (AGEDI).
The late Sheikh Zayed had also lent his name to many environmental awards including the one million USD Zayed International Prize for the Environment and The Zayed Future Energy Prize which represents the vision of the late founding father who championed environmental stewardship.
Foreign advisers suggested that the local climate was not conductive to farming. In Sheikh Zayed's own words: "Foreign experts told us that it was impossible to plant anything in our harsh and hostile terrain. We told them 'Let us try." Not heeding the experts' advice, Sheikh Zayed allotted funds for vast reclamation projects to increase the agriculture and forested areas.
In a speech to mark 32nd national day anniversary, Sheikh Zayed said: " While we have worked to achieve balanced and comprehensive development in all economic and social fields, we have, too, paid special attention to the environment and its conservation." The United Nation's Food and Agricultural Organisation, FAO, awarded in 2 June 2001 the medal of the International Food Day to the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al Nahyan in appreciation of his humanitarian services and his generous help to the needy around the world. Jacques Diouf, then FAO Director General, praised Sheikh Zayed's humanitarian efforts and his continued assistance to developing countries.
Over 18 global awards were given to Sheikh Zayed, including the WWF Gold Banda Award, the UNDP Champion of the Earth, FAO medal of the International Food Day and the "Man of Development and Progress" award by the Arab League.
Sheikh Zayed enjoyed respect both regionally and internationally as a prudent and visionary leader who utilized his wisdom in healing rifts among Arab countries. He once said: "I haven't spent a single night happily ever because of disputes between Arab brothers." Sheikh Zayed attached great importance and dedicated a lot of time to the Palestinian cause. He provided unlimited support to the struggle of the Palestinian people to regain their rights and to confront violations of the Israeli occupation.
He openly supported the Middle East peace process. Yet, he expressed concern over the deadlock, due to obstacles put by Israel to derail the process.
In an interview with the New York Times, published on 31 May 1998, Sheikh Zayed said: "If the deadlock continues, the Arab peoples will feel frustration and despair. It will unleash uncontrollable forces into the region that could get out of hand. In that case what can any ruler tell his people? The public outrage and anger will be such that it will be difficult for Governments to control this outpouring of anger against injustice." Sheikh Zayed initiated several projects to sustain the steadfastness of Palestinian people and to rebuild infrastructure destroyed by repeated aggressions of Israel. Among these projects were reconstruction of 800 residential units in Rafah, the Sheikh Zayed City in Gaza, the Sheikh Zayed Hospital in Ramalah, to name a few.
The late Sheikh Zayed had always called for tolerance and rejection of terrorism, which, he viewed as a phenomenon alien to Islam.
During a meeting with Prince Charles of Wales on 11 November 1993, Sheikh Zayed said: "Islam is the religion of tolerance, compassion, mercy, and forgiveness. It is a faith that does not condone violence and aggression by terrorist who kill their own people." In the wake of the terrorist attacks that took place on 11 September 2001 in New York and Washington, Sheikh Zayed reaffirmed to the then American president George W. Bush the consistent UAE policy of opposition to terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, saying that "terrorism is repugnant to Islam and to other divinely-revealed religions" and that it is "a mortal enemy of humanity as a whole."
The late Sheikh Zayed addressed a direct message to the leaders of the 15 members of the North Atlantic Treaty Alliance (Nato), in which he confirmed the stand of the UAE against terrorism and its strong condemnation of it as a terrorist and criminal act, which had caused thousands of deaths and injuries to innocent people in the United States.
Sheikh Zayed said that the UAE condemns the acts of terrorism everywhere, including the ongoing terrorism practiced by the Israeli occupation forces daily in the Palestinian territories and against unarmed Palestinian people.
In his message, Sheikh Zayed emphasized that, "The Arab and Islamic worlds cannot accept what is happening in the occupied Palestinian territories, the daily killing and displacement of civilians, expelling them from their homes and seizing their property, because this is unacceptable politically and morally. " On October 6th, 2003, Sheikh Zayed said that the spirit of terrorism is far from Islam, the religion of tolerance and moderation. He said, "This is an injustice to Islam. Those who are chanting these allegations and accusations without discretion and without evidence should return to the Holy Quran. We accept the speech of those who recite the Holy Quran, and the accusations which are directed without basis for Muslims are unacceptable.
He added that, "Islam rejects terrorism and attacks on human beings everywhere ... it is impossible for a Muslim and Arab to terrorise people worldwide. The pressure exerted on the Arab world does not please Allah or His Messenger, or the Arabs and Muslims, and those who accuse Islam, Arabs and Muslims with terrorism, they have to define for us who is a terrorist ... are they Muslims or those who assault them, their women and children, as well as old people.
"Allah in the Holy Quran, tells us it is not permissible for a Muslim to be a terrorist ... and they should know that Muslims stand up to anyone who belongs to Islam while at the same time committing any acts of terrorising humans. The terrorist is the enemy of Islam and humans, while a Muslim is a friend of humans and brother for Muslims and non-Muslims, because Islam is a religion of mercy and tolerance." Sheikh Zayed, in addressing the nation on the 1st of December, 2003, said, "We affirm that there is no divine law nor international law and Human Rights law that gives any justification for the practice of terrorism, and that any attempt to use religion to justify such acts is fundamentally a wrong attempt, because it is contradictory to all humanitarian and religious teachings, foundations, principles and values." He added, "We strongly reject the advocacy of hatred and violence and spreading discord among the peoples of the world, and we in the UAE will continue our way to maintain our harmonious and united society, adhering to its values and heritage, open to the world and interacting with cultures and creativity." Support of Al Azhar The late Sheikh Zayed worked, from his faith of moderation in Islam, to support Al-Azhar, in order for it to be able to play its role as a landmark in the Arab and Muslim world, and to discharge a message of moderation in spreading Islam as Allah wanted for people.
The Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Al-Sharif Dr. Ahmed Al-Tayeb, in a statement on April 29th, 2013, expressed his appreciation for the UAE leadership, government and people, and its Founder, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, in supporting the institutions of Al-Azhar.
He said that Al Azhar does not forget the great support of the UAE, including the establishment of the Sheikh Zayed Centre for teaching Arabic to non-native speakers at Al-Azhar University, and the huge project for the establishment of a modern library of Al-Azhar containing thousands of its manuscripts.
He added, "This Centre is a form of positive cooperation and effective cohesion between Al-Azhar and everyone who works for the revival of the civilisation of Islam as language, legislation and knowledge, in particular, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who left in every corner of the world enduring impact and good works." The Late Sheikh Zayed's generous giving continues in supporting Al-Azhar and its scientific institutions and strengthening the role of its civilisation. As per the directives of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, on 29th April, 2013, announced an initiative to finance projects in Al-Azhar worth AED 250 million. The project includes the financing of Al-Azhar library restoration project, maintenance and restoration of their collection of manuscripts and prints, and providing protection systems and electronic monitoring to protect it, in addition to the financing of the construction of four residential buildings for the students of Al-Azhar in Cairo, and the financing of design works to build a new library.
Abu Dhabi Fund for Development
Helping Hands In 1971, the late Sheikh Zayed established the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development, to be helpful for brothers and friends, to contribute to the development projects of their people, out of his love for charitable work to serve a humanitarian purpose.
Sheikh Zayed also laid the foundations of humanitarian action and its implementation mechanisms, by his initiative to establish the Red Crescent Authority nearly three decades ago. H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Ruler's Representative in the Western Region and Chairman of the Authority, on the occasion of the 29th anniversary of the RCA founding in January, 2012, said that the Authority will continue to play a humanitarian role following the legacy of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who laid the Red Crescent's foundation, from where the convoys of goodness and giving to the friendly and brotherly peoples have been launched.
In 1992, the late Sheikh Zayed also established the Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Charitable and Humanitarian Foundation with a capital of more than 1 billion US dollars, to extend a helping hand in the arena of philanthropy in all fields both within the country, and abroad.
The Foundation topped the list of contributing bodies to the United Nations Refugee programmes, occupying 5th place in the world in 2001 for organisations and international government bodies. A report of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which is sponsoring more than 65 million refugees around the world, said that the Zayed Charitable and Humanitarian Foundation is the first Arab institution to occupy this position, referring to its distinguished contribution in Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) resettlement programmes in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and many parts of the world, as well as the reconstruction of infrastructure and areas destroyed by the Israeli occupation forces in Palestine.
Commandment In a speech on the occasion of the 32th National Day on the 1st of December 2003, the Late Sheikh Zayed, nearly a year before his death, recommended his sons of citizens to work hard to preserve the national accomplishments achieved by the Federal march and the great goodness enjoyed by them.
He addressed his speech to the younger generation, saying, "What is achieved of great goodness will not last without more effort and sacrifices ... and we should work hard in order to protect our national accomplishments and promote the progress of our union, as well as to bring more pride and prosperity to the nation and citizens.
It is for all of the aforementioned that the Late Sheikh Zayed will remain amongst us as a symbol of eternity in our lives, as confirmed by Sheikh Khalifa, saying, "Zayed will be always with us, his memory is immortalised in our souls and hearts with his great works, and he will be present among us and with us forever and ever." On 8th August 2012, the 8th anniversary of the death of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, eulogised that "The people's love for Zayed is a grant from Allah, who gives it to anyone who loves, and for the one who dedicates his life for the benefit and welfare of people.
"History does not forget great men or their contribution to its existence, and the Emirati identity will remain faithful to Zayed, because he dedicated his life in the construction of man. The name of Zayed will be always in our minds and in all corners of this country, and his generous giving for his state and his nation will remain a pure model over time, and we will remain faithful to his march, inspired by his wisdom. "