Sheikh Zayed

Topics: United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi, Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Pages: 28 (9896 words) Published: March 14, 2013


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ON 2 NOVEMBER 2004, HIS HIGHNESS SHEIKH ZAYED BIN SULTAN AL NAHYAN, President of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, died. He was in his late eighties and had been Ruler of Abu Dhabi since 1966, and UAE President since the formation of the Federation on 2 December 1971. He was succeeded as Ruler of Abu Dhabi by his eldest son and Crown Prince, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who, on 3 November, was also elected unanimously by the Supreme Council of Rulers of the UAE as the country’s second President.

Sheikh Zayed had been involved in government since 1946, when he became the Representative of the Ruler of Abu Dhabi in the Eastern Region of the emirate, and, upon becoming Ruler in 1966, he took the initiatives that led to the formation of the seven-member UAE Federation five years later. For the citizens of the Emirates, the vast majority of whom were too young to recall any other leader, he was not merely a President and Ruler, but he was also like a father. His passing prompted, as was to be expected, an outpouring of grief throughout the country, both among citizens and amongst the UAE’s large expatriate population, many of whom have lived much or all of their lives in the Emirates. President Sheikh Zayed, however, was not merely a national leader, but a widely-respected Arab and world statesman, as was shown by the fact that many Kings and Heads of State, Crown Princes, Prime Ministers and other senior government figures from around the globe flew in to attend his funeral or to pay their condolences to his successor. Among them were representatives not only from the Arab world, such as the Kings of Bahrain and Jordan, the Sultan of Oman, the Emir of Qatar, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia and the Presidents of Yemen, Iraq, Lebanon, Egypt, Sudan and Algeria, but also from Asia, including the Presidents of India, Pakistan and Afghanistan, and from Europe, including the President of France and Britain’s Prince Charles, Africa and the Americas. He also received the rare tribute of a special motion of condolences in Britain’s House of Commons.

Obituaries in some of the world’s leading newspapers, such as The New York Times and The Times, as well as the many messages of condolence received by President Sheikh Khalifa, from world figures such as Britain’s Queen, the US


and French presidents, the Emperor of Japan, the Secretary-General of the United Nations and numerous other monarchs, presidents and prime ministers, paid credit both to his achievements in developing the United Arab Emirates into a stable, modern and tolerant state, through a sagacious use of the country’s oil and gas revenues, but also to his wisdom in international affairs, holding fast to his own basic principles, while seeking to promote conciliation and peace-making wherever the opportunity arose.

Thus Britain’s Queen Elizabeth expressed her condolences to President Sheikh Khalifa ‘on the death of your distinguished father . . . who served your country with such dedication and dignity over many years. I am sure that the prosperity of the UAE today will be widely seen as a testimony to Sheikh Zayed’s wisdom, skill and devotion to the service of the state’.

US President George W. Bush commented: ‘The United States mourns the passing of a great friend of our country . . . Sheikh Zayed was . . . a pioneer, an elder statesman and a close ally. He and his fellow rulers built their federation into a prosperous, tolerant and well-governed state’.

France’s President Jacques Chirac, expressing ‘deep sorrow and emotion’, described Sheikh Zayed as ‘a man of peace and vision’. In a message to Sheikh Khalifa, he added: ‘The work accomplished by Sheikh Zayed is huge . . . Man of peace and vision, he kept...
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