Zayed, the immortal spirit in the memory and conscience (2nd Add)
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In 1968, the British announced that they would be leaving the Gulf at the end of 1971, and that the seven emirates needed to decide how they wished to face a challenging future. Sheikh Zayed, along with his fellow-ruler in Dubai, Sheikh Rashid bin Said Al Maktoum, took the lead in proposing the creation of a federation and in due course, on 2nd December 1971, the state of the United Arab Emirates was formally established, with Sheikh Zayed as its first President.
Over the subsequent 33 years until his death, Sheikh Zayed, re-elected as President at five-yearly intervals by his fellow rulers, created and guided the new state. With a judicious use of the wealth from oil and gas, he supervised the process of creating a modern infrastructure. And, in keeping with another of his well-known beliefs, that the real wealth of the nation is its people , he devoted not just funds, but also his own time and determination to ensuring that education of the country s citizens, men and women alike, was accorded the highest priority.
He also sought to ensure that the newly-educated were given the fullest possible opportunities in terms of employment. Recognising that the UAE was limited in terms of its own national human resources, he demanded that its women should be given the same opportunities as men to serve the country. Today, thanks to his efforts and those of his wife, H.H. Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, UAE women can be found at all levels in government, commerce and industry, sharing in the task of building the nation.
At the same time, however, Sheikh Zayed recognised that, in an increasingly inter-linked world, expatriates, from all over the globe, had an important part of building the Emirates. To ensure that they would feel welcome in doing so, Sheikh Zayed laid down the principles of tolerance, both in terms of religion and in terms of culture, and of promoting harmony that, today, as in his lifetime, represent an essential part of the country that he built.
He sought, too, to engender an understanding of the importance of cherishing and learning about the country s heritage, stressing that "He who does not know his past cannot make the best of his present and future, for it is from the past that we learn".
The investment made by Sheikh Zayed in the country s people in terms of education and infrastructure was a reflection of his commitment to build the nation, to give to current and future generations a life far removed from the deprivations of the past.
The results of that commitment are visible for all to see a key part of Sheikh Zayed s legacy.---MORE---.