Friday, January 15, 2010
Late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Founder Father of the UAE
Good morning ^_^
Before telling you more about the seven Emirates, I wanted to first tell you a little bit about their Founder, our Father Late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, may God rest his soul in peace.
Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan (1918 – 2 November 2004), the principal architect of United Arab Emirates (UAE), was the ruler of Abu Dhabi and president of the UAE for over 30 years (1971-2004).
Zayed was the youngest son of Sheikh Sultan bin Zayed bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, the traditional ruler of Abu Dhabi from 1922 to 1926. He was named after his famous grandfather, Sheikh Zayed bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, who ruled the emirate from 1855 to 1909. On August 6, 1966 he succeeded his brother, Sheikh Shakhbut Bin-Sultan Al Nahyan, as emir of Abu Dhabi. Zayed was first appointed (by the other six Sheikhs on the Supreme Council) to the presidency of the UAE in 1971 and was reappointed on four further occasions: 1976, 1981, 1986, and 1991.
His religious tolerance of Christians and the freedom given Western workers sojourning in the UAE was in marked contrast to most neighbors in the region and exposed him to criticism from other more conservative nations. Sheikh Zayed was respected around the world for his unifying influence and his drive to make the Emirates one nation. His calls for cooperation extended across Persian Gulf to Iran.
Sheikh Zayed advocated dialogue as the means to settle the row with Tehran over three strategic Persian Gulf islands which Iran seized from the UAE Emirate of Sharjah in 1971, though the islands remain in Iranian hands, despite over three decades of UAE diplomatic initiatives.
Zayed did not shy away from controversy when it came to expressing his opinion on current events in the Arab world. Troubled by the suffering of Iraqi civilians, or perhaps for other reasons, he took the lead in calling for lifting sanctions on Iraq imposed by the United Nations in the aftermath of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990, despite Kuwaiti displeasure and opposition.
Zayed was considered one of the wealthiest men in the world. A Forbes magazine estimate put his fortune at around USD $24 billion. The source of this wealth could be almost exclusively attributed to the immense oil wealth of Abu Dhabi and the Emirates, which sit on a pool of a tenth of the world's proven oil reserves. Nevertheless he chose to live a relatively modest and traditional lifestyle, riding and hunting with falcons, though he gave up hunting with firearms, a sport at which he excelled, to set an example for wildlife conservation in his fragile desert homeland. He was personally popular, and was regarded to be considerably pious in his religious observances.
In 1999, while he was in a hospital for some tests, the people of the UAE wrote him a personal thank-you letter with 1.5 million signatures. He underwent a kidney transplant in 2000 at the Cleveland Clinic in the U.S.
On 2 November 2004, Zayed died, as announced by Abu Dhabi TV. He was believed to be 86 years old. No official cause of death was given; however he had recently been in London undergoing hospital treatment. He is buried in the courtyard of the new Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi.
His eldest son, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, born in 1948, took an increasing role in the government from the 1990s; he was ratified as President of the United Arab Emirates by his fellow rulers on the Supreme Council directly after his father's death.
Shaikh Zayed International Airport located at Rahim Yar Khan, Punjab, Pakistan is named in his honor.
Late Sheikh Zayed was extremely popular in his home country. He was admired as a relatively simple man who guarded his people's culture and traditions and presented a civilized image of the UAE to the rest of the world; he was the undisputed father of his nation. He was especially respected in the US and Europe due to his pro-western stance, and his reputation as a moderate and gentle ruler.
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