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Shaikh Zayed’s 10 Years On

Abu Dhabi: Ten years after the passing away of UAE’s founding father, Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, his legacy remains the guiding spirit of his country, whose infrastructure and staggering advancement he personally oversaw.

His benevolence and the socio-economic shift he engendered during his 33-year rule continue to inspire every facet of development in the UAE.

In achieving all that, he reiterated a timeless truth for the world to make a note of: the rewards of diligent work and steadfast vision, complemented by an inspiring display of unbiased generosity, will always lead to progress.

To the casual observer of Gulf politics — indeed, of world politics — it would be hard to miss the greatness of the character of Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founder and first president of the United Arab Emirates.

The man who turned the desert green had a penchant for expedient change — a trait that every leader aspiring to change the world possesses. His achievements are testimony of a leader devoted to the creative reworking of things, and of harbouring the eternal, necessary dissatisfaction with everything already achieved, so that things considered impossible may be made possible. It is no wonder then that Shaikh Zayed reworked seven disparate emirates into a single entity that is the UAE.

He changed the desert land of his country into a vibrant landscape and – most significantly – converted a tense climate of division into a consistent, altruistic state of unity. If there is a common trait in the great men of history, it is their devotion to, and resolute belief in, the power of change.

With London asserting that British forces would leave the Gulf by 1971, Shaikh Zayed led the campaign to unite the nine emirates which had been under British protection. Qatar and Bahrain would end up leaving the proposed union, leaving Shaikh Zayed with seven remaining emirates to unite.

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