HH Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan (1918-2004)
Presumably, if Shk. Zayed dies who will take power in Abu Dhabi? Also who will beome the leader of the council? The way things are looking their will be a power struggle. I am assuming Sheikh Kalifa would take power, but I am not sure. If this unthinkable atrocity occurs, then Crown Prince Mohammed's big brother, Hamdan would become Vice-President or President of the ruling council. Correct? Someone please set me straight.
Sheikh Khalifa should be the next ruler of Abu Dhabi. However, knowing about the different power struggles in the Middle East, it would not surprise me if someone else was thrust on to the scene at some point.(Sheikh Abdullah)
I don't think that the Al Maktoums will ever rule over the Emirates. The majority of the Al Nahyans can't stand the Al Maktoums.
I have heard rumours from two different sources that Sheikh Zayed died yesterday and it is being kept quiet (for unknown reasons).
Anybody else heard this? Is it just the usual rumour mill?
I do want to stress that what I have heard are rumours (albeit from two seperate sources). But has anyone else got any more reliable information?
What the heck is going on
My hands are really shaking now! These rumours have been buzzing since Friday. I don't know what to believe. We haven't seen Baba Zayed for some time but his sons were beaming in today's and yesterday's pictures on wam and I doubt they'd be doing that if their father was dead. But I don't know.
Part rumour and part credible information taken from www.tunezine.com
A number of sources have told Stratfor that Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan, the ailing ruler of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), is close to death or has died. Like similar arrangements in many other monarchies on the Arabian Peninsula, the rulerís eldest son, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahyan, will succeed his father on the throne in the emirate of Abu Dhabi. However, because power is distributed among the presidentís various sons, a fight for the UAE presidency could break out within the royal family - or beyond.
A Persian Gulf-based source told Stratfor late Oct. 14 that unconfirmed reports were circulating of the death - or near death - of United Arab Emirates (UAE) President Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan. The sources said Sheikh Zayed had been taken to a London hospital because of failing health. The source also suggested the presidentís entourage could be keeping his death a secret in order to claim the president died Oct. 15 - during the holy month of Ramadan. The consensus from various sources, however, is that the monarch is extremely ill and that discussions pertaining to succession have begun among his family in Abu Dhabi and the rulers of the six other emirates that make up the UAE federation.
Given the Islamic religious culture in the Arabian Peninsula, which calls for a quick burial of the deceased, it is likely Sheikh Zayed clings to life and that rumors of his death began to circulate after his physician intimated the president had very little time to live. Sheikh Zayedís son, the crown prince of the largest emirate of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahyan, will succeed him as ruler of Abu Dhabi - and is expected to succeed him as UAE president. It is possible, however, that the presidential transition will not go as smoothly as the informal succession plan would suggest. Two of Sheikh Zayedís other sons, who are half-brothers - or even an outsider - could vie for the presidency.
In fact, this presidential succession will be an historic event in the United Arab Emirates; Sheikh Zayed has ruled since the country was created in 1971. The crown prince is destined to follow his father as emir of Abu Dhabi and it is expected that he will assume the presidency of Abu Dhabi. That succession, however, is assumed under an informal agreement only.
Abu Dhabi is the most powerful of the UAEís seven emirates - Dubai, Sharjah, Raís al-Khaimah, Al Fujairah, Umm al-Qaiwain and Ajman - because of oil, which would explain why the countryís Supreme Council has elected Sheikh Zayed as president for six successive five-year terms since 1971.
But because the succession process is not written in stone, sources close to the UAE, in particular sources close to the ruling family, say there could be several contenders for the presidency. Stratfor examines the possible scenarios:
1. Succession takes place in accordance with the established arrangement, and Sheikh Khalifa, son No. 1, takes over. He has a huge following of four major tribes in the west, south and east of the country and is considered extremely influential, though he is not as wealthy as son No. 3. That said, it is quite possible he would he be willing to sell the presidency in exchange for some other political and economic benefits.
2. Son No. 3, Sheikh Muhammad, becomes ruler. Commander of Abu Dhabiís armed forces, Muhammad has a Western education, a good command of the English language and personifies the United Arab Emirates interface with the Western world. We are told he is materially more affluent than Sheikh Khalifa and is considered more qualified to run the country. Although he controls the police, army, intelligence and the ports, he has only about half the supporters of son No. 1. Would he make an offer of money for the post?
3. Son No. 2, Sheikh Sultan, succeeds his father. Sultan is well loved and widely respected by the people of the United Arab Emirates. However, two terrible automobile accidents some 25 years ago slowed him down, though he is not handicapped. He could possibly become president in name with son No. 3 as his deputy. This system is in play in the emirate of Dubai, where there is a nominal leader, but real power resides with his deputy.
4. There is an outside chance Dubai also could make a bid for the presidency. Given its power as the second largest emirate - and the fact that UAEís prime minister and its vice president always have come from Dubai - it could join with smaller emirates and become a contender. Sources in Dubai told Stratfor the wife of a lower-level sheikh says the wives and families have standing orders to go to Oman or elsewhere in case of Sheikh Zayedís death - because the power struggle could get ugly.
5. A more remote possibility is that Sheikh Zayedís grandson - who has been schooled in the West - is named president. There is one precedent for a move of this nature. When Sheikh Zayed came to power as ruler of Abu Dhabi in 1966, he managed to break with tradition and name his son as crown prince instead of his brother. He overcame the obstacle by co-opting senior members of the family into the government.
6. The most remote possibility is that Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed al-Qasimi, emir of Sharjah, would offer his candidacy. Sheikh Sultanís tribe was the most powerful before the arrival of the British and the creation of the United Arab Emirates.
In essence, the struggle for the UAE presidency is likely to be an Abu Dhabi family affair, possibly involving Dubai as well. The exact direction and extent of the power struggle remains to be seen.
Thank you very much for the article. Good and interesting analysis/info.
This is the latest on him.
UAE president Nahyan dies
Tuesday, November 2, 2004 Posted: 1749 GMT (0149 HKT)
ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (CNN) -- Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan, president and founder of the United Arab Emirates, has died after many years of poor health, according to his office. He was about 90.
The cause of his death on Tuesday was not revealed.
Nahyan had not attended Arab summits for some time because of his ill health. In August 2000, he had a kidney transplant.
Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahyan, a son of Nahyan, will automatically take over as ruler of the capital, after being designated previously by his father.
Under the UAE constitution, Vice President and Prime Minister Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid al-Maktoum, ruler of Dubai, will act as president until the federal council, which represents rulers of the seven emirates, meets within 30 days to elect a new president.
Nahyan, ruler of Abu Dhabi since 1966, was the founding leader of the United Arab Emirates, which he had ruled since the seven emirates forged a union and received independence from Britain in 1971.
Beginning in the late 1960s, the oil boom transformed Abu Dhabi into a cosmopolitan city, and prompted politically ambitious Nahyan family members to settle in the capital, where many of them obtained positions in the expanding emirate and federal bureaucracies
Photo: United Arab Emirates President Sheik Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan salutes in a photo taken last March.
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UAE President Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Dies at 86
Dar Al-Hayat 2004/11/2
The president of OPEC member the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, died on Tuesday, Abu Dhabi state television said. "The royal court announces to Arab and Islamic countries and the rest of the world the death of the leader of the nation Sheikh Zayed ... on Tuesday evening," said an announcement read out on Abu Dhabi television.
Sheikh Zayed, who has been absolute ruler of the United Arab Emirates for more than 30 years, had been ailing for several years and did not attend Arab summits. He had a kidney transplant in August 2000. His eldest son, Sheik Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, has been heir apparent since his father named him in 1969 crown prince of Abu Dhabi, the capital and richest of the seven emirates.
Abu Dhabi TV interrupted regular broadcasting to break the news of Sheikh Zayed's death, but no cause of death was provided. The announcement was followed by an Islamic cleric appearing on TV reading verses from the Koran.
Sheikh Zayed, ruler of Abu Dhabi since 1966, was the founding leader of the United Arab Emirates, which he had ruled since the seven emirates forged a union and took independence from Britain in 1971. He has watched over the Emirates' development from a cluster of desert provinces ruled by Arab tribes to a world-leading financial and banking center.
Under the UAE constitution, Vice-President and Prime Minister Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum, ruler of Dubai, will act as president until the federal council which groups rulers of the seven emirates meets within 30 days to elect a new president.
While the rulers of the seven emirates must choose the next president, they are expected to settle on Sheikh Khalifa. It was not immediately clear when a decision would be made on Sheikh Zayed's successor.
Zayed was born in 1918 and named after his grandfather, Sheikh Zayed bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, who has the longest reign in the emirate's history, ruling Abu Dhabi from 1855 to 1909. His grandfather is also known as "Zayid The Great" and "Zayed the First", and had played a large role in forging unity between the tribes of Oman and leading the Bani Yas tribe.
Zayed's father, Sheikh Sultan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, ruled Abu Dhabi between 1922 and 1926. Then Zayed's uncle, Sheikh Saqr bin Zayed Al Nayhan, reigned followed by Zayed's eldest brother, Sheikh Shakhbut in 1928. After his father died in 1927, Zayed moved to the oasis of Al Ain, approximately 160 kilometers east of the island of Abu Dhabi, where he spent the rest of his youth. There he underwent religious education, and learned the Koran and was deeply moved by the biography of Prophet Mohamad.
At that time, the seven emirates, known then as the seven Trucial States, had been under British influence since 1820. Abu Dhabi was poor and undeveloped and its economy was based upon fishing and pearl diving along the coast. The economy suffered when the market for Gulf pearls collapsed in the 1930s after Japanese scientists invented the cultured pearl. At this point, the first oil company teams came to carry out geological surveys, and Zayed was appointed to guide them around the desert.
Sheikh Shakhbut assigned Sheikh Zayed to govern Al Ain in 1946 and later in 1953. They both traveled to Europe to appear at a legal hearing on an oil dispute. They also traveled to the United States, Switzerland, Lebanon, Iraq, Egypt, Syria, India, Iran, and Pakistan. On his return, Sheikh Zayed was convinced that it was urgent to develop the area in order to bridge the large gap between it and the rest of the world.
When oil was discovered in Abu Dhabi in 1958, economic matters began to improve. The first commercial field entered production in 1962 from the offshore Umm Shaif field, and then from onshore at Bab. On August 9, 1966, Sheikh Shakhbut gave control of Abu Dhabi to his younger brother.
After assuming rule, Sheikh Zayed introduced a formal government structure, with departments developed to handle specific tasks. Priority was given to build basic housing facilities, schools, health services, and the construction of an airport, a seaport, roads, and a bridge to link Abu Dhabi to the mainland. Financial resources were spent for the planting of trees in Al Ain in order to transform Abu Dhabi into a green city. Funding was also spent for the creation of a zoo in Al Ain in 1967.
When Britain announced in January 1968 that it would withdraw its military presence in the Gulf, Sheikh Zayed was the first statesman to call for a union. Zayed realized that for Abu Dhabi to prosper, it would need to co-operate with its tribal neighbors. So his first step was to meet with the then-ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum. The two held meetings on the 19th of February 1968 at Samih and discussed border disputes. This followed by the signing of an agreement on the 27th of February 1968, which would form a federation of nine emirates (Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Bahrain, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah, Sharjah, Qatar and Umm al-Quwain). Unfortunately the had many setbacks as Zayed tried for 3 years to bring things together. Bahrain and Qatar wanted to seek full independence and Ras Al Khaymah also declined to join. On the 2nd of December 1971, a federation of six emirates (Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Sharjah, Umm al-Quwain) formed the United Arab Emirates [UAE]. Sheikh Zayed was elected president and Sheikh Rashid was elected vice-president. Shortly afterwards, Ras Al Khaimah decided to join the federation, which officially took place on the 11th of February of 1972.
Sheikh Zayed has been re-elected as president at five-year intervals by the Supreme Council Members, who are ruling members of each of the seven emirates. Sheikh Rashid was re-elected vice-president until he died in 1990, at which time his son, Sheikh Maktoum, took his father's place. Sheikh Zayed continues to utilize the oil revenues of Abu Dhabi to fund projects throughout the UAE. Sheikh Zayed also played a major role in the formation of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which officially started in Abu Dhabi in 1981.
Now at the age of 86, Sheikh Zayed's health is deteriorating and he continuously travels to the United States for medical check ups. He traveled to the United States in 1996 for a spinal surgery and then again in August 2000 for a kidney transplant, both of which he has recovered successfully. His son, Sheikh Khalifa, who is the crown prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, will succeed him. Al Ain is currently being governed by Sheikh Tahnoon bin Mohamad Al Nahyan.
United Arab Emirates Supreme Council President Sheik Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan is shown in this Nov. 13, 2001 file photo, at the Presidential Palace in Abu Dhabi. Al Nahya, who helped forge a federation from seven Persian Gulf states and ruled it since its creation, has died, Abu Dhabi TV said, Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2004. He was 86.
Very sad news to hear that Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan has passed away.
Yes, I'm very sad today. I've been looking high and low for Emirati televisions online but none of them are working/available.
yes it is sad, allah yerhamuh, the Jordan TV and kuwait tv online have Quran and news only.
kuwait tv online: http://www.media.gov.kw then ktv1
This has to be one of the saddest days in tne Muslim world. But now Babe Zayed is at rest. I wish his soul peace and to the citizen of Abu Dubai comfort during this very sad time.
Ojala Ojala Ojala Ojala keep you!!!
Thank you very much for the link! Although I cannot understand Arabic the verses from the Quran were comforting to listen to.
1. ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES: This handout picture released by the United Arab Emirates' official news agency WAM shows Emirati President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahayan (2nd R) and Vice President Sheikh Maktum bin Rashed al-Maktum (R) receiving condolences from Saudi Interior Minister Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz (L) 04 November 2004 in Abu Dhabi over the death of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahayan, the founding father and head of state of the seven-member UAE federation since its formation in 1971, who was buried yesterday. Sheikh Khalifa was named to take his place.
2.Dubai's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Rashed al-Maktum (R) shaking hands with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad while Jordan's King Abdullah II (L) looks on as Emirati official receive condolences 04 November 2004 in Abu Dhabi over the death of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahayan, who died two days ago.
3. An unidentified Emirati official receiving Britain's Prince Charles upon is arrival 04 November 2004 in Abu Dhabi to present his country's condolences over the death of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahayan
4.Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz (2nd L) arrives with a delegation from Saudi Arabia at Abu Dhabi's international airport to attend the funeral of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahayan
5. Muslim leaders and officials pray over the body of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahayan during his funeral at Abu Dhabi's Sultan bin Zayed Mosque 03 November 2004. Nahayan, the president and founding father of the United Arab Emirates, died 02 November 2004 after more than 30 years at the helm of his oil-rich country. Seen in the second row from L to R: Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf, Algeria's Abdelaziz Bouteflika, Afghanistan's Hamid Karzai, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, the eldest son of the late Emirati president, Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Abullah bin Abdul Aziz, Bahraini King Hamad bin Issa al-Khalifa, Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, Saudi Interior Minister Nayef bin Abdul Aziz and King Abdullah II of Jordan.
6. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) Vice President Sheikh Maktum bin Rashed al-Maktum (L) arrives with his brother Sheikh Mohammed (R), the Crown Prince of Dubai, at Abu Dhabi's Sultan bin Zayed Mosque to attend the funeral of the UAE's President Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan 03 November 2004
There have been plenty of articles published in the press the last three days on his life but these two I really enjoyed reading. Thought I'd share them with you.
He was master and friend: Palace staff have fond memories of Zayed
Life in Shaikh Zayed's beach palace was warm and everyone, including his housekeepers, said they were part of a family. Gulf News spoke to two people who lived with Shaikh Zayed in his beach palace.
"When I first started working in the palace, I was very young and shy," said Elizabeth Yousuf, a Pakistani housekeeper, who spoke to Gulf News from London.
"I was frightened whenever Shaikh Zayed used to pass by because, after all, he was the President. I used to walk with my back bent forward and my head bent downwards. When Shaikh Zayed used to see me, he put his hands on my shoulders and straightened my back. He used to always tell me: 'A woman should never walk with her back bent forward and her head to the floor. She should be proud to be a woman and walk with her back straight.'
"The two most spectacular people in the world are Shaikh Zayed and Gandhi. Gandhi led India to freedom and Shaikh Zayed led the UAE to a new life.
"I had always wanted to live in London and when I told Shaikh Zayed he got me a job in UK. At one time, the place where I was working was being renovated and Shaikh Zayed was worried they would let me go so he bought me a flat in London to live in. In all my time with the late President, I never saw a change in his lifestyle or diet," she said.
"His favourite colours were red and green and he used to eat the same traditional food every day. For a long time, he used to sleep on a traditional and basic low-ground bed. He used to love everything traditional and didn't like changing his habits or way of life. The only thing that concerned him, day and night, was how to please his people."
Malou Villafior, a Filipina, has worked in the beach palace for 14 years. She will miss the fun side of the man who was always teasing his employees.
"Thousands of people have come to the palace over the last two days to offer their condolences. Some people might think that because I am a servant I am not as sad as others. But all of us working in the palace feel extremely sad. Shaikh Zayed was incomparable. I don't think there is a man like him in the world. Shaikh Zayed has left a void in the palace. Whenever he was around, he used to joke or toss fruit at us so we could catch it. He used to laugh when we missed it and tap us with his stick. Sometimes he'd hide one of the fruits in our pockets and then teasingly tell whoever was with him at the time that his maids were stealing fruit from him.
"When Shaikh Zayed was in good health, he used to walk around the palace and in the palace's gardens. If he'd spot any of us he used to pull out Dh2,000 from his pocket and give it to us. Every Eid, he used to sit in his majlis and call us all in to give us money and presents. My children adored Shaikh Zayed and called him 'father'. They are in the Philippines now, but when I brought them over, Shaikh Zayed always greeted them warmly and played with them. Shaikh Zayed would also give us advice and tell us stories about different things. Sometimes I had trouble understanding because of the language barrier, but he would try to make me understand by giving examples and making things simple.
"He never refused us a favour. I have an artist friend who once wanted to paint Shaikh Zayed. I asked Shaikh Zayed and he agreed to be painted. He gave my friend Dh100,000 for the portrait. In my 14 years in his service, I have never met a man who can be compared to Shaikh Zayed in any way."
Shaikh Zayed's generosity extended to those outside the palace.
UAE national Musabah Obaid has been working as a palace operator for 15 years.
"Whenever I used to connect a call to Shaikh Zayed, he used to chit-chat with me before accepting the call. He'd ask me if I was happy and if I ever needed anything. I live on the outskirts of the country and yet I never felt alone or isolated. Shaikh Zayed built homes for me and my children. He never made me feel like I was less than him or that he was the President and I was just the operator. During any occasion, like Eid, he'd give everybody in the palace money and gifts. He was the most generous of men."
Thank you for the last article. Everything that was mentioned was so true. It is just sad to see such a great person leave and not knowing we would get another great man/leader again
Dr Ezz Al Deen Ebrahim tells us about the late Great Sheikh Zayed:
Zayed 'steadily charted the course of UAE's destiny'
Abu Dhabi: Nothing can stop the formation of the UAE Federation because it is our destiny, Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan once told a close aide.
And today, Dr Ezz Al Deen Ebrahim, Cultural Adviser to the late President for more than two decades, says Shaikh Zayed worked tirelessly to take his people to their destiny the UAE.
"If it was any man other than Shaikh Zayed, the federation would not have been formed," Dr Ebrahim said.
"At the time, with the British withdrawal, it was imperative that a federation be formed and a viable state be established that could apply to the United Nations," he said.
"To achieve this, Shaikh Zayed and Shaikh Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, then Ruler of Dubai, met and decided to form a union, and the other emirates were invited to join. They united and allowed others to follow. Shaikh Zayed was determined. He was confident that soon the others would follow."
And so they did, and the union was formed on December 2, 1971.
"Shaikh Zayed was ecstatic. He visited every house no matter how humble and congratulated everyone on the new union. But never once before its formation did he lose his cool. He was always confident that the day would come when the emirates would join together. He'd always tell me that it was destiny and that history compelled it to happen. The leaders of the other emirates would not curtail it, he'd say, since they will all keep their sover-eignty and their emirate will keep its identity. He was confident that no other emirate would be able to stand on its feet alone. And until his last moments, his determination to cover their needs never wavered.
"Since then, there have been no other successful unions in the Arab world like the United Arab Emirates," he said.
Since 1970, Dr Ebrahim was Shaikh Zayed's cultural consultant, which in Shaikh Zayed's definition meant everything.
"I was asked to do nearly everything. For nearly four years, I was the director of UAE University. I was also the founder of the cultural foundation and helped in the establishment of the women's union.
"I used to see Shaikh Zayed nearly every day, but I wasn't allowed to see him in the last period. I understand that he was ill and needed to concentrate on larger presidential issues."
During Shaikh Zayed's time, he said: "All the executives were kept as close as possible to the President. He met with us every day in the majlis. People thought that the majlis was a time to sip coffee and have polite conversation when, in fact, it was the only time where major decisions of the country were made. We all had our eyes on Shaikh Zayed and once he looked at us, we would jump up and report our progress to him."
On one incident with Shaikh Zayed that he will always cherish, he said: "I had never asked Shaikh Zayed for anything and I made that my policy because once a man involved in charitable work asks for a favour, he is ruined. I pride myself as a good father, so Shaikh Zayed had once asked me to do something for him that would require me to travel abroad.
"Unfortunately, my children had exams at the time and I wanted to coach them. I told Shaikh Zayed: 'If you order me, I will comply but my children have exams and I would prefer it if you would put this off for two weeks.' I was touched when he agreed and postponed the work. He told me: 'Ezzeddin being a good father is more important than anything else.' "
Recalling a funny incident, he said: "I have had many humorous incidents with Shaikh Zayed, but I remember at one time, I had accompanied him in his hunting trip in Rahim-Yar-Khan in Pakistan. I was in the camp and was hopeful to be included in Shaikh Zayed's hunting team. So when he got into his jeep, I leaped up and stood in front of his car indicating that I was willing to go with him. He looked at me with his twinkling eyes and a half smile and said: 'Ezzeddin, you are getting old and you are a bit heavy so you wait in the camp and you have a lot of reading material and things to work on but hunting is not your cup of tea.' The way he said it and his expression, I'll never forget.
But all good things must come to an end.
"His death is a personal loss, a national loss and an international loss because he was a person who embodied everything. It is a personal loss because we have lost a father, a brother and a friend. It is a national loss because he was the founder of the UAE. It is an international loss because he had a moderate policy with international countries. We cannot describe him as just a president, a father figure or an international figure," Dr Ebrahim said.
"We who have lived close to him are in shock more than anybody else."
On his many attributes, he said: "Shaikh Zayed was a man who had a strong sense of responsibility. I once asked him, what occupied him more than anything else and he replied: 'What occupies my mind more than anything is my responsibility as a leader.' "
Shaikh Zayed was also a moderate and simple man. "Moderate in his food, in his clothing, in the things he liked and in his decisions. He was even moderate in the making up of the UAE. This is why there are Muslims and Christians, Sunni's and Shiaa's, Iranians and Arabs in the country. He did not like extremism or radicalism. He was even moderate in his feelings towards people. He was also wise. Knowledge can be given to leaders but to be wise is a gift from God. Another quality was that he was forgiving. He once told me: 'How can you ask for solidarity before asking for forgiveness?'"
He was also a charismatic man. "He could look you in the eyes and understand what you were thinking about. His ability to judge people by way of intuition was remarkable.
"He was very kind. Many people might hear about his kindness but I have actually witnessed it. As his cultural adviser, I was involved in many things. One of these things was briefing him on humanitarian projects or requests from individuals. In all my time with him, I never told him that we needed a certain amount for a project without him doubling that amount.
"For example, if I told him that a man had requested Dh50,000, Shaikh Zayed would give me Dh70,000. And what most people didn't know, the money was mostly at Shaikh Zayed's personal expense. But he not only generous with money. He paid $70 million to build a dam in Yemen, in Egypt he helped build a water canal, in Palestine he build residential areas.
"He has spent billions of dollars to assist other countries, but one thing that he always warned me of was never to build in other countries what we don't have in the UAE. He even funded a project developed by former US President Jimmy Carter to eradicate a worm that would multiply in the body. Nobody had known that Shaikh Zayed funded this project."
I watched his funeral on Kuwaiti television. I know the funeral was covered from helicopters by the Abu Dhabi tv but the Kuwaiti tv mainly covered the attendence by foreign dignitaries. People were pilgriming toward his Palace. People on the streets were bowing/praying on the roads, even expatriates. I read women were throwing themselves to the ground as his jeeps passed by. One man who was inside the Palace was really crying his heart out. I think I saw sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed crying.
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