Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan ruled Abu Dhabi for over 3 decades. He was the chief architect behind the formation of the United Arab Emirates. He was the first President of the United seven Emirates and held the position for 33 years. He established the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority in 1976 that became the world’s third-largest sovereign investment fund. Sheikh Zayed is popularly known as the Father of the Nation.
Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Family and Early Life
He was the youngest son of Sheikh Sultan bin Khalifa Al Nahyan. One of his three brothers, Sheikh Shakhbut bin Sultan Al Nahyan ruled Abu Dhabi after their uncle, Saqr bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Zayed grew up in Al-Ain, a place without modern schools. He received basic education of Islam, living in the desert with Bedouin tribesmen. He learnt the ability to survive under the harsh climatic conditions.
Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Career and Reign
Zayed was appointed the governor of the Eastern Region of Abu Dhabi in 1946. The place was vulnerable to outbreaks of disease. He helped the parties from Petroleum Development in their search for oil in the area. In 1952, a small Saudi Arabian force occupied the village of Hamasa in the Buraimi Oasis. He opposed Saudi’s territorial claims and rejected the bribe, allowing Aramco to explore oil in the region.
He, alongside his brother Hazza, attended the Buraimi arbitration tribunal in September 1955 to give evidence to the members. The tribunal was abandoned due to the allegations of Saudi bribery and Britishers occupied the Buraimi Oasis. Zayed helped develop the region and batted for restoration of the falaj system, a network of water channels.
The discovery of oil in 1958, and the start of oil exports in 1962, frustrated the ruling family members about the lack of progress under Sheikh Shakhbut’s rule. In 1966, Shakhbut was replaced by Zayed. Later, Zayed hired Katsuhiko Takahashi to design and plan the city.
In 1968, a seminal meeting took place on the desert highland between Dubai and Abu Dhab border. Sheikh Zayed and Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum of Dubai agreed on the principle of founding a Federation and attempting to invite other trucial rulers.
In 1974, the border dispute with Saudi Arabia was solved by Zayed. He died in November 2004, at the age of 86 and was buried in the courtyard of the new Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi.
Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Memorials and Legacy
- Shaikh Zayed University, located in Khost, southeastern Afghanistan. It was built by the aid of Sheikh Zayed.
- Sheikh Zayed City in Greater Cairo, Giza Province, Egypt, built depending on a donation from Abu Dhabi Fund for
- Development, on directions of Sheikh Zayed.
- Zayed International Prize for the Environment and Zayed Future Energy Prize are named in his honour.
- The Kukës International Airport “Zayed-Flatrat e Veriut” in the northern city of Kukës, Albania, was named after him.
- Shaikh Zayed International Airport (Rahim Yar Khan) located in Rahim Yar Khan, Punjab, Pakistan, is named in his honor.
- Shaikh Zayed Medical College and Hospital located at Rahim Yar Khan, Punjab, Pakistan, was named in his honor.
- Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan’s Mosque, also known as Stockholm Mosque, in Stockholm, Sweden.
- A lecture theater was named in his honor at the London School of Economics.
- A Hafiz School in Gudermes, Chechen Republic, was named in the Sheikh’s honor.
- The Sheikh Zayed Arab Falconry Heritage Wing at The World Center of Birds of Prey in Boise, Idaho which was set up through a donation from Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, son of Sheikh Zayed.
- The current dam in Ma’rib is also called “Zayed Dam”.
- Zayed Town, located in Central Bahrain, was financed by Shaikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan and named in his honour.
- The first phase of this township project was inaugurated in 2001
- A street in Montenegro was named for his memory in 2013.
- Shaikh Zayed Hospital for children and another for women in Larkana Sindh Pakistan.
- Shaikh Zayed Hospital Lahore Punjab Pakistan, Shaikh Zayed Medical Complex Lahore.
- The 5th ring road in Kuwait is now named in honor of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.
- The Sheikh Zayed Tower at the Johns Hopkins Hospital is named in his honor.
- Sheikh Zayed Hospital located at Vučitrn, Kosovo, was named in his honor.
- One of the main streets of the Berges du Lac neighborhood of Tunis is named in his honor.
- Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation, Children’s National Medical Center, Washington, DC.
- Sheikh Zayed Professorship of Cardiovascular Diseases at the Mayo Clinic.
- Sheikh Zayed Children Welfare Centre, a centre for orphaned children located in Mombasa, Kenya.
- 2018, during the Dubai Light Show, is called that year “Year of Zayed”, to celebrate 100 years since his birth.