New York-based newsmagazine Newsweek has come up with a list of influential leaders of the world who have reinvented their country during their time in office. Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, father of the UAE, has been listed as one such leader.
The article titled Transformers has Sheikh Zayed listed alongside Jamal Abdul Nasser of Egypt, Nelson Mandela (South Africa), Deng Xiaoping (China), Jomo Kenyatta (Kenya), and Margaret Thatcher (Britain), among others.
"Although he was born in a tent at an isolated oasis on the Arabian peninsula in 1918, Zayed created the blueprint for the United Arab Emirates as a modern, relatively tolerant, regional economic powerhouse," the article states.
Sheikh Zayed became ruler of Abu Dhabi in 1966. He was first appointed by the other Sheikhs of the Supreme Council to the Presidency of the UAE in 1971 when the country was formed. He remained President for 33 years, until his death in 2004. During his time in office, the country was transformed from a handful of desert trading towns to an international business centre and modern marvel.
Sheikh Zayed had a reputation as a moderate and gentle ruler. He built institutions such as hospitals, schools and universities and made it possible for UAE citizens to enjoy free access to them.
Sheikh Zayed was also an advocate of the education and participation of women in the workforce. His views regarding women's rights were considerably more liberal than those of many others within the GCC.
He is also remembered as "the man who turned the desert green", because he invested in projects to improve the harsh desert environment.
Sheikh Zayed was also loved outside the UAE. He oversaw the establishment of the Abu Dhabi Fund for Arab Economic Development.
Through this organisation aid was channelled to less fortunate nations in Asia and Africa for decades.? – Gulf News