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Dubai Abulhoul: What I learned from our father, Sheikh Zayed
December 02, 2014
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Forty-three years ago, on the second of December, a group of visionary leaders came together, under the guidance of His Highness Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al-Nahyan, to form the union. In forty-three years, the United Arab Emirates was transformed from a barren desert to a cosmopolitan country. Sheikh Zayed’s name echoes not only throughout the pages of history, but also throughout the hearts of his people. The accomplishments of Sheikh Zayed have affected hundreds of individuals worldwide, and left us with a legacy of achievements to live up to. It is almost impossible to list all the lessons we have learned from Sheikh Zayed’s time and life, but on the 43rd National Day, I have reflected on the lessons I have learned so far from our father, Zayed.

I learned the meaning of determination when Sheikh Zayed fought long and hard to unite the Trucial Emirates in 1971. My thirst for knowledge grew when I read about Sheikh Zayed’s belief in education’s role in building a prosperous country. I understood compassion when he extended his tireless hand to those in need around the world. His generosity expanded throughout the region, and Sheikh Zayed has left in us the hope of a unified Arab world, remarking in one of his most famous statements that, “Arab oil is not dearer than Arab blood.” I learned that our role in the development of the country is not a right, but a duty. I learned the meaning of equality when Sheikh Zayed recognized the importance of women’s role in society, stating that: “Women have the right to work everywhere. Islam affords to women their rightful status, and encourages them to work in all sectors, as long as they are afforded the appropriate respect.” Despite the country’s quick development, Sheikh Zayed showed us that the present is merely an extension of the past, and the ones who do not know their past, cannot make their way into the future. He was open to new ideas, and encouraged innovation, but emphasised the importance of holding on to our culture and heritage. Not only was heritage of the people of the UAE important to Sheikh Zayed, but also the conservation of its natural environment and wildlife. Our ancestors have survived both the land and sea, and he recognised the need to conserve it.

Sheikh Zayed believed in the power of the youth, and showed us that the individual who is healthy, but does not work, commits a crime against himself and against society. But most of all, by committing his life to his country, he has taught us the importance of giving back and contributing in the building of the United Arab Emirates. Whether you are an architect, scientist, student, or artist, how are you giving back to your country, and how are you making it a better place? Sheikh Zayed worked hard to give us the lives we live today, and it is our duty to continue making his vision and dreams a reality. On this National Day, I encourage you to reflect on the following questions: What did you learn from our father, Sheikh Zayed? And how are you contributing to turning the vision he had for this country into a reality?

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The author is an Emirati novelist-writer

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