Emirati businessman Adnan Mohammed Sabt fondly recalls his memories of Sheikh Zayed, the founding father of the UAE, whom he first met when he was still at school. It was, he says, an early impression that has stayed with him throughout his life.
“We were on the Dubai-Al Ain Road in the early 1980s,” he remembers. “I was young and with a group of students, who all rushed toward him to meet him. We were instantly held back by the school’s supervisors, but then Sheikh Zayed called on everyone to let us go so we could come to greet him. As a child, it was a very pleasant surprise and has remained a constant source of pride.”
That first encounter taught Sabt about the principles by which Sheikh Zayed led his country – and created the template for all Emiratis to follow. “To meet our founding father was an unforgettable moment for us, but personally it showed me how humble and generous he was. Sheikh Zayed set an example no one could forget, such as his attitude towards his people. These are traits that reinforce our values and make them firmly rooted in the personality of the UAE. His example is a reminder, a beacon, about service and humanity.”
For this reason, Sabt also describes Sheikh Zayed as “a great role model” for everyone. “He showed us that the proper way to deal with people is with humility and respect, when anyone could just meet him anytime without formalities.”
Sabt says that his respect only deepened over the years as the UAE developed into a country of modernity and opportunity. He has particular praise for Sheikh Zayed’s efforts in championing education and harnessing the country’s resources to build schools and academic and scientific institutions – all of which laid the groundwork for the future economic prosperity of the country.
“Throughout his life, Sheikh Zayed strived to provide a decent life for every citizen and resident in the UAE,” he continues. “It was his goal to create a civilised state; one that would improve and protect its people. And that meant everyone in the UAE, which made him the father of all.”
Sabt points to the country today as proof that Sheikh Zayed succeeded in establishing the values of tolerance and generosity throughout UAE society, all of which is built on the rule of law and social justice in which the UAE ranks highly according to international standards of living.
“Our founding father was exemplary in spreading tolerance, reuniting everyone and seeking to resolve disputes and differences with his wisdom, intelligence and acumen,” Sabt says. “It was his humanitarian vision that made him an unsurpassed statesman. His work continues to guide the UAE’s humanitarian efforts and policies, none of which are limited by geography, race, colour or religion.”
Furthermore, he adds, Sheikh Zayed stressed that foreign aid and assistance is one of the basic pillars of UAE policy.
As such, Sabt believes that 2018 ought not only to be a year of loyalty and gratitude, but to recognise Sheikh Zayed as a historic leader, one who gave so much for his nation and its people.
“He remains a symbol and role model for all Emiratis, providing an inspiration to all our sheikhs who follow the same example and instil the same principles,” he says.
“I will never forget the great work of the founding father of the nation who was an inexhaustible source of inspiration for the young generation in his generosity and sacrifice.”
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