The Founder’s Memorial, a permanent national tribute commemorating the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, was inaugurated in an official ceremony today under the directives of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai; His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces; H.H. Sheikh Hamad bin Mohammed Al Sharqi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Fujairah; H.H. Sheikh Saud bin Rashid Al Mu'alla, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Umm Al Qaiwain, and H.H. Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Ras al-Khaimah.
The inauguration was also attended by H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of Dubai Executive Council; H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and UAE Minister of Finance; H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Salem bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Deputy Ruler of Sharjah and Deputy Chairman of the Executive Council; H.H. Sheikh Ammar bin Humaid Al Nuaimi, Crown Prince of Ajman; H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Crown Prince of Ras al-Khaimah; H.H. Sheikh Tahnoun bin Mohammed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Ruler`s Representative in Al Ain Region; H.H. Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Chairman of Abu Dhabi Executive Council; H.H. Sheikh Saeed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Ruler`s Representative; H.H. Sheikh Nahyan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Charitable and Humanitarian Foundation; H.H. Lt. General Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior; H.H. Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs; H.H. Sheikh Hamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chief of the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince's Court; H.H. Sheikh Diab bin Zayed Al Nahyan; H.H. Sheikh Omar bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Charitable and Humanitarian Foundation; H.H. Sheikh Khalid bin Zayed Al Nahyan Chairman of the Board of Zayed Higher Organisation for Humanitarian Care and Special Needs; H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, Executive Council Member; H.H. Sheikh Khalid bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of the State Security Department; Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Tolerance; Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Khalifa, Bahrain’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, along with other sheikhs, companions and close friends of the late Sheikh Zayed.
The Founder’s Memorial inauguration, through the unveiling of 'The Constellation', the monumental artwork that forms its centrepiece, coincides with the national Year of Zayed initiative, declared by H.H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed to mark 100 years since the birth of Sheikh Zayed.
Located at the heart of The Founder’s Memorial, the monumental artwork by public artist Ralph Helmick depicts a dynamic three-dimensional portrait of Sheikh Zayed, and can be experienced differently from multiple viewing points around the memorial and from other vantage points, offering a series of infinitely evolving personal encounters with his image.
The Constellation is made up of more than 1,300 geometric shapes suspended on more than 1,000 cables. At night, these shapes shine like stars, evoking the timelessness of Sheikh Zayed’s vision as a guiding light for the UAE people.
A moving tribute to Sheikh Zayed, the man and the leader, the 30-minute ceremony created an atmosphere of great pride and joy.
The ceremony took place in the presence of members of the UAE’s royal families, ministers, dignitaries and VIPs, who gathered at the site on the Abu Dhabi Corniche in celebration of UAE’s Founding Father and his vast influence on his country and the wider world, while members of the public across the country and the region watched the poignant occasion on TV and online. It included a performance featuring a 40-strong choir performing Allah Ya Dar Zayed, as well as beautiful new arrangements of other traditional songs and music, and a touching compilation of Sheikh Zayed's performances of the traditional Ayala dance.
His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid said that the legacy of the late Sheikh Zayed would remain in the hearts and minds of the sons of this nation. He added that Sheikh Zayed wanted the country to have a pioneering role among the nations of the world and to remain strong. He went on to say that the leadership’s unwavering goal has been the happiness of its people.
"Zayed's legacy will remain a never-ending source of wisdom from which future generations draw inspiration as well as lessons of patriotism and dedication. The Founder’s Memorial will continue to testify to the achievements of the founding leader and the sacrifices he made. His legacy is filled with stories of loyalty to the homeland, and it places a responsibility on us and on future generations to safeguard the gains, and build on the success stories so that our homeland remains a symbol of dignity and development," Sheikh Mohammed said.
"Today, my brother Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, our brothers the UAE Rulers, and I inaugurated the Founder’s Memorial," Sheikh Mohammed continued. "It is an important message that links future generations to the memory of the leader who laid the foundations of the nation. It is a message that the youth must absorb and work to achieve in various sectors to continue the process initiated by Zayed and the UAE’s Founders and to build the future of a country that wants its citizens always to excel."
His Highness the UAE Vice President added that it was fitting to have a memorial for the Founding Father, saying that Sheikh Zayed had a special place not only in the hearts of Emiratis but all those who had benefited from his generosity. "When we mention giving, we have to mention Zayed. His name will forever be associated with generosity and humane leadership in the annals of history. Zayed sought to spread good across the world and make the Emirates a beacon of hope and optimism, and overcome all obstacles. Today, the sons of Zayed follow the same approach to make the UAE the wellspring of good for people and a source of happiness with tolerance, harmony and peace."
His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan said Sheikh Zayed’s vision would continue to guide the UAE and the wider region. "The Founding Father would continue to inspire current and future generations with his humanity, leadership and wisdom," he added.
He said that the Founder’s Memorial would help people understand how the happiness of his countrymen was Sheikh Zayed’s only goal. "He instilled the values of hard work, giving and dedication in his people, inspiring them to take the country to new heights under the leadership of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan," Sheikh Mohamed said.
"We proudly unveil the Founder’s Memorial to celebrate Sheikh Zayed’s legacy and achievements," he continued adding that the Founding Father was unmatched in his humanity, wisdom and leadership. "He founded a state, built a nation and personally shaped a civilisation."
His Highness the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince said that those who knew Sheikh Zayed recognised his greatness, nobility and uniqueness. "His approach was based on ethics, his message was peace, love and tolerance, and his goal was building good citizens. We will continue to cherish this great leader’s legacy and follow his principles in our lives."
"The nation Sheikh Zayed built would continue to be counted among the greatest and most respected worldwide thanks to the efforts of its sons and daughters. Our connection with Zayed," Sheikh Mohamed said, "was that of a father to his son, a leader to his people and a man to his homeland. It is a close connection, an extension of the love of the founder of our Union, which has grown over the years. We pride ourselves on this love and hand it down to future generations," he went on. "Our youth today demonstrate their loyalty to Sheikh Zayed by eagerly acquiring more knowledge, displaying a commitment to ethics and humanity, and devoting their efforts to nation-building and preserving the gains of the past," Sheikh Mohamed added.
"We are grateful to the founding father, who made a difference in our lives and made the UAE achieve international recognition. He will always have a special place in the heart of every Emirati and those who love the UAE," Sheikh Mohamed concluded.
The Rulers of the UAE also expressed great pride in the national, humanitarian and civilisational legacy of the late Sheikh Zayed. The glittering legacy can be glimpsed in the UAE’s impressive development and its proud record. The people of the UAE and its leadership remain proud of the founder of the Union and will embrace his love, generation after generation.
H.H. Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Presidential Affairs and Chairman of the Higher National Committee for the Year of Zayed, said, "Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan's legacy is clear to the people of the UAE and the world through his timeless cultural and humanitarian achievements. His character is a model for us all in terms of behaviour, work, leadership and thought. The Founder’s Memorial serves as a beacon that will guide future generations, shedding light on the founding father of the UAE, his outstanding ideas that preceded his time, and the dreams he realised through his patience and hard work.
He stressed the continuation of Sheikh Zayed's approach and the importance of preserving his principles and achievements, together with the noble values he has inspired in the hearts of the citizens and residents of the UAE.
Set against the backdrop of the landscape of The Founder’s Memorial beyond, the cinematic event traced the late leader’s life and legacy, honouring his tireless efforts in building a strong and sustainable nation, and celebrating his memory as a man of the people and a global figure remembered for his wisdom and respect for others.
As if told by Sheikh Zayed himself, the story unfolded through his voice, through his actions – depicted in rarely-seen footage and imagery – and through people whose lives he touched, including Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Tolerance, Sheikh Zayed bin Hamad bin Hamdan Al Nahyan, Ali bin Salem Al Kaabi; Major-General Hamad bin Suhail Al Khaili; Mubarak bin Qaran Al Mansoori, and Zaki Nusseibeh, Minister of State.
When The Founder’s Memorial opens to the public in Spring 2018, it will include a dynamic, informative and inspirational visitor experience.
A place to learn about Sheikh Zayed through art, landscape, words, stories and multimedia experiences. The Founder’s Memorial will offer visitors a range of personal encounters with the late Sheikh Zayed as a man and a leader, enabling people to gain a deeper understanding of his life, legacy and values.
The site will open up 3.3 hectares of pristine public space to the UAE community for walking and quiet reflection, featuring landscaped areas planted with trees and shrubs indigenous to the UAE and the Arabian Peninsula, and an elevated walkway that will offer captivating views of The Constellation, The Corniche and the Abu Dhabi skyline.
The Ministry of Presidential Affairs is the official authority that owns and supervises the Founder’s Memorial.