By Ibrahim Abdel Jalil Al Madani
Sheikh Zayed's lessons continue to inspire our rulers today
I was very happy to learn that we would celebrate the Year of Zayed. But what many people may not know is that we consider every day to be Zayed Day and his memory is alive in our daily activities. In the UAE we have achieved many good things such as stability, a safe environment and happiness, and these are credited to this man whose simplicity and spontaneity made him loved by all his people and made him unique. His achievements are countless.
I never managed to meet him, which is my unfulfilled wish, yet Sheikh Zayed is in our hearts and soul. His words and deeds touch us daily.
We also need to thank our rulers today, such as Dr Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi [ruler of the Emirate of Sharjah since 1972] as I feel the same style of leadership has followed on from our founding father; Sheikh Al Qasimi is one of the leaders who constantly met and worked with Sheikh Zayed. And we also feel that Sheikh Zayed’s sons have some of his traits as they look upon him as a role model as well as a father.
And this is the beauty of the UAE where the new generation builds on our founding father’s achievements. By leading in the same style we enjoy continued success because they are building on solid foundations. Which of course we see with Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan UAE president and ruler of Abu Dhabi and Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, ruler of Dubai and Prime Minister of the UAE. Along with the other rulers of the UAE, they have set a good example everywhere, both in the Emirates and abroad. This is something we experience on a daily basis.
There is my generation that directly witnessed the leadership of Sheikh Zayed, and then the new generations that have come since. Life for them has changed, the pace of everything has become faster. These younger people growing up in this era of the internet and social networking need to focus on knowing more about him, and not just for the Year of Zayed. It should continue after 2018 ends; his memory should remain alive in our daily lives, and therefore we need to more focus on that in our schools and in our media.
I must say that I was overwhelmed with joy when I attended a graduation ceremony recently and they started the celebration by quoting Sheikh Zayed and citing his experiences. It shows how his impact will survive to our future generations.
The day Sheikh Zayed died didn’t just prompt sadness in the UAE. In many parts of the world where his charitable work spread, from Egypt to Pakistan and many other countries, they also mourned his passing. I met people abroad who expressed their sadness at his death and most of them had never seen him, yet they had benefited immensely from his contributions. His generosity reached far beyond our borders and we do not even know about all of these contributions. He did so much more than turn the desert into an oasis of greenery and prosperity.
Suffice it to say that, even today, when we travel throughout this region and talk about the UAE, the first response is often: “May Allah have mercy on Sheikh Zayed”. Whether from people who were his contemporaries or who have personally seen him or not, the fame of our founding father has reached everywhere.