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Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan

Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan (1918-2004), served as president of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) from 1971 until his death in Nov. 2, 2004.  Born around 1918, he was the youngest of the four sons of Sheikh Sultan bin Zayed Al-Nahyan,  a member of the Bani Yas tribe, who ruled Abu Dhabi from 1922 to 1926.

Abu Dhabi  Emirate is primarily a vast desert area (It occupies 67,340 square kilometers or 86.7% of the total area of the UAE) with about two dozen islands in the coastal waters, including the island where the city of Abu Dhabi (Previously called Milh or Salt) is located.

The Emirate was poor and undeveloped and its economy was based1 primarily on fishing and pearl diving along the coast and on date plantations and camel herding in scattered oases inland with part of the population being nomadic.

In 1939, Sheikh Shakhbut, the then ruler of Abu Dhabi, granted the first of several oil concessions on his territory. When oil was discovered in Abu Dhabi in 1958, economic matters began to improve. The first commercial field entered production in 1962. And Abu Dhabi was on its way to become very rich.

On August 6, 1966 Sheikh Zayed succeeded his eldest brother, Sheikh Shakhbut Bin-Sultan Al Nahyan, the traditional ruler of Abu Dhabi from 1926, after the latter was deposed in a bloodless palace coup and proclaimed itself in power.

Earlier from 1946, Shaikh Shakhbut assigned Shiekh Zayed to govern Al Ain as governor of Al Ain, Abu Dhabi's eastern province until he deposed his brother to become the emir of Abu Dhabi. In 1953 Sheikh Zayed made his first visit abroad, accompanying his brother, Sheikh Shakhbut to Britain and France.

When Britain announced in January 1968 that it would withdraw its military presence in the Gulf, Sheikh Zayed and Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoom, the then-ruler of Dubai, held a meetings and discussed on border disputes and co-operation with its tribal neighbors.

On the 2nd of December 1971, a federation of six emirates (Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Sharjah, Umm al-Quwain) formed the United Arab Emirates [UAE]. Sheikh Zayed was elected president and Sheikh Rashid was elected vice-president. Shortly afterwards, Ras Al Khaimah decided to join the federation, which officially took place on the 11th of February of 1972. Two of the Trucial states, Bahrain and Oman, chose not to join the federation.

Sheikh Zayed had been re-elected as president at every five-year intervals by the Supreme Council Members. These elections were not by popular vote, there is no democratic institutions exist in the UAE., he infact appointed by the other six ruling Sheikhs that sit with him on the Supreme Council. To make this as a 'federal statutes' of the country, Zayed utilized the oil revenues of Abu Dhabi to fund projects to the other six emirates as well.

Sheikh Zayed was considered one of the wealthiest men in the world. Zayed's fortune estimated at around US $30 billion a year. The source of this wealth could be almost exclusively attributed to the immense oil wealth of Abu Dhabi Emirate,  that he accumulated for himself and his family.

He invested part of the wealth into projects to transform Abu Dhabi into a major city. One of his weddings landed in the Guinness Book of Records for being the most expensive in the world. Sheikh Zayed's critics point out that it was not his own wealth that he was distributing, but the nation's.

Sheikh Zayed advocated dialogue as the means to settle the row with Tehran over three strategic Gulf islands (
Abu Musa) which Iran seized from the UAE in 1971. The islands remain solidly in Iranian hands, despite over three decades of UAE diplomatic initiatives.

Zayed had played a major role in the formation of the Arab Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). The Arab Gulf Cooperation Council, (GCC) grouping the UAE, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar and Oman, was founded at a summit conference held in Abu Dhabi in 1981.

After the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the U.S., the UAE was identified as a major financial center used by al-Qaeda in transferring money to the hijackers (Two of the 9/11 hijackers were UAE citizens) the nation immediately cooperated with the United States.

On 3rd November, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan was appointed as the new President of the United Arab Emirates to continue in the footsteps of his late father, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

Sheikh Zayed had more than forty-five other children, although most of them were not involved actively in politics.

                  Sheikh Zayed an Anti-Hero or Villain? (Part 2)



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This report is an indictment of dishonest UAE authorities, who operate without respect for the rule of law and the inherent dignity of mankind".
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