“It is my duty as the leader of the young people of this country to encourage them to work and to exert themselves in order to raise their own standards and to be of service to the country. The individual who is healthy and of a sound mind and body but who does not work commits a crime against himself and society”, the late Sheikh Zayed may he rest in peace. The quote listed above summarizes Sheikh Zayed and his mentality. Unlike many other rulers of the time and region, he was very unique. He had all the wealth in the world and instead of keeping it all for himself and family, he decided to share it with his people and country. Many say that wealth corrupts people; the late Sheikh Zayed has proven otherwise. Sheikh Zayed went from being a simple man with little possessions to swimming in wealth over night; he managed to stay humble and focused on his goal.
The UAE was in a critical situation at the time, people barely had clean water and food. The economy was weak due to the short life spans of people and the overall feeble population. Sheikh Zayed was aware of this and instead of taking his money and keeping it for himself, he began enriching the lives of his people. He granted every Emirati a couple pieces of land for homes and businesses, he secured every Emirati a job and hired expats to teach in western educational systems to educate all his people. During all of this Sheikh Zayed remained humble and down to earth. He was often seen in pictures praying on the desert sands as well as sitting on the floor with commoners discussing their problems and advising them. Sometimes during mealtime, he would feed his children or guests first and wouldn’t mind having a small portion in the end. There were many instances in which Sheikh Zayed could have done something to only benefit himself, although not once has this happened, unless it was something very minor such as getting his health in check. This is what made him so different and successful.
Under his rule the UAE expanded and flourished. The deserts turned into gardens and the land that was once the home of sand now holds some of the world’s most prominent skyscrapers. The country now holds over 200 different nationalities and has become a key tourist attraction. Both nationals and expatriates find comfort in the safe streets and neighborhoods of the country. Saadiyat Island holds the most luxurious hotels and resorts of the world as well as one of the most prestigious universities, the New York University of Abu Dhabi. Al Maryah and Al Sowwah Island that house one of the world’s best hospitals, Cleveland clinic and shopping centers that hold worldwide brands. In the year of 2013, an estimated number of five million people traveled through Dubai’s International Airport. Listed were just a few examples of how far the UAE has come and all thanks to our father Zayed, may his soul rest in peace. Even though it has been ten years since his passing, his legacy will live with us forever.