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Sun 29 Jul 2018 03:44 PM

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Sheikh Zayed: More than a memory

Sheikh Zayed bequeathed guiding principles that we must continue to live by, writes Abdullah Mohammed Juma Al Naboodah, chairman of Saeed & Mohammed Al Naboodah Group

Sheikh Zayed: More than a memory
Sheikh Zayed visiting Ghayathi town, Al Gharbia region in Abu Dhabi in 1976

History is made by men and women who leave behind a legacy that inspires the generations that come after them. The UAE is fortunate to have witnessed the leadership and foresight of such a man – a man whose principles and values still deeply impact all who knew him.

Today, we owe to Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the nation’s founding father and first president, the vision behind what this country has become and what it will still achieve through advancements in technology, infrastructure and rigorous policymaking. Looking back at what made Sheikh Zayed such a remarkable figure makes it obvious why we continue to pay tribute to his monumental achievements.

So while the Year of Zayed is an ideal time to commemorate his achievements, it is also an occasion to reflect on how we can best carry forward his legacy. It was Sheikh Zayed himself who led the revolutionary change that brought about the sustainable development of the country and achieve an exemplary environmental transformation, changing the landscape from a desert into a green haven. Alongside his remarkable efforts to that end, Sheikh Zayed also instilled a deep sense of environmental responsibility in today’s leaders and citizens that has withstood the test of time.

Furthering the legacy

Evidence of his long-standing governance can be found in the commitment to sustainability by both the UAE government and the private sector.

Carrying forward his vision, companies such as Saeed & Mohammed Al Naboodah Group, the holding company for Al Naboodah Group Enterprises (ANGE), are actively embracing the need to make our operations more sustainable. His example has shaped our approach to being a more socially aware organisation as we align our vision and goals to those of the UAE Vision 2021.

Today, ANGE is making dedicated efforts towards environmental conservation through responsible consumption, protection of our heritage by working as a family and unlocking potential with fair opportunities for all.  We believe that we each hold a responsibility to give back to the UAE and what better way than to play a role in conserving the UAE’s heritage and natural assets? For example, ANGE is maintaining the Al Ain Oasis date plantations – part of the first listed UNESCO World Heritage Site in the UAE – in a sustainable way that also reflects our heritage.

At the Al Ain Oasis date plantations, we aim to ensure that almost 75 percent of natural resources are saved and all parts of fallen or trimmed date plants are used – many in ways that promote our heritage and culture. We re-purpose the date palm leaves to create barasti fencing and roofing for traditional buildings and to create ornaments, baskets and furniture, preserving traditional Emirati handicraft techniques.

Furthermore, in Sheikh Zayed’s own words: “No matter how many buildings, foundations, schools and hospitals we build, or how many bridges we raise, all these are material entities. The real spirit behind progress is the human spirit, the able man with his intellect and capabilities.” We know that Sheikh Zayed was determined to educate his countrymen.

A proud responsibility

The core of Sheikh Zayed’s mission was to improve the UAE residents’ way of life while protecting their heritage and creating a sustainable future for their children. These same values are still embraced by our leaders today as they envisage the direction the UAE will take in the coming years.

In summary, the Year of Zayed is an excellent time for reflection on how our companies can support the UAE and its people – ensuring that Sheikh Zayed’s values live on. While he will never be forgotten, the true greatness of Sheikh Zayed’s mark on UAE history is the fact that he has left us more than memories. He has gifted us with a way of life, and even after his passing those beliefs still permeate our industries.

Walking in his footsteps is a responsibility – but one we are proud to fulfil.

Tribute by Abdullah Mohammed Juma Al Naboodah, chairman of Saeed & Mohammed Al Naboodah Group

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