Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Mourning Sheikh Zayed’s Death

After a long struggle with illness, United Arab Emirates President Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan has passed away at the age of 86.
The Emirates’ top decision-making body, the Supreme Council, declared that starting Wednesday, a 40-day official period of mourning would begin. It also announced that all government offices would close for eight days and private sectors will be shut for three.
Under the UAE constitution, Vice-President and Prime Minister Sheikh Maktum bin Rashid al-Maktum, ruler of Dubai, will act as president until the federal council, which groups rulers of the seven emirates, meets within 30 days to elect a new president.
Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, a son of Sheikh Zayed, will automatically take over as ruler of the capital. Official sources expect the council to elect Sheikh Khalifa as the next president of the oil-rich federation and Opec member.

Sheikh Zayed was a ruler who was profoundly loved by his people. He was a people’s man always. He always followed his ancestor’s tradition of close interaction between leaders and their subjects. Every day he would receive his compatriots, sons and brethren, with unfailing amity. He never closed his doors to them, and always emphasized the fact that democracy throughout the history of this nation means normal daily coexistence between the ruler and the ruled, their meeting as one family with no attempt at acting or sophistication. The open-door policy adopted by Sheikh Zayed, despite his growing responsibilities and occupations, never changed over the years, whether as Ruler of the Eastern Province or as Ruler of Abu Dhabi, or even after his election as UAE President.

Sheik Zayed helped transform seven backwater Gulf states into the world’s ninth largest oil producer and a high-tech commercial crossroads of gleaming skyscrapers. Not to forget his overwhelming accomplishment in turning desert into oasis through investments in agriculture, building roads and bridges, setting up facilities and providing services, telecommunications, health and education.

UAE owes Sheikh Zayed its rapid development, the stability and the economic progress.
Sheikh Zayed was a good man and a wise leader. May his soul rest in peace, and may God forgive us all.
“Inna lillah, wa inna ilayhi raji3oun”.