His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan has said 2018 will be the ‘Year of Zayed’ to honour what would have been 100th birthday of the country’s founding father, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.
الإخوة والأخوات أعلن رئيس الدولة حفظه الله قبل قليل عام ٢٠١٨ "عام زايد" ، احتفاءً بمئوية ميلاده، وتخليدا لإنجازاته، وترسيخا لإرثه في شعبه pic.twitter.com/gruqTGWRIR
— HH Sheikh Mohammed (@HHShkMohd) August 5, 2017
So what does this actually mean?
The Year of Zayed will focus on the role of the late President and founder of the UAE in establishing the federation and many of his local, regional and international achievements.
Among many other notable achievements, Sheikh Zayed worked tirelessly developing educational opportunities and using advanced technology to improve living conditions in the UAE.
Sheikh Khalifa noted: “The Year of Zayed is a great national occasion when we will proudly share memories of the life of the founding father, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, and his gift to us of deeply-rooted values, principles and traditions that have become part of our Emirati identity.”
Six reasons why everyone should celebrate Sheikh Zayed’s life and work:
- A tireless statesman: Not only was Sheikh Zayed instrumental in uniting the seven emirates in 1971, but 10 years later he persuaded the five other sovereign Arab Gulf kingdoms – Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait – to unite in the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC).
- Always welcoming: He gave a helping hand to our neighbours, the Kuwaitis during the Gulf War, and welcomed approximately 66,000 citizens and even supported them financially.
- Open to all cultures: Freedom of worship to expatriates was permitted and he supported the building of churches. In 1958, Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed al Maktoum permitted the Hindu temple to be built on the first floor of a bylane in Bur Dubai. He did not discriminate between a local and an expat, his love and care reached out to all, irrespective or their religion, race or gender. The UAE also hosts several churches.
- An environmentalist: Sheikh Zayed was awarded the title “Man of Environment and Development” at the eighth Arab Youth Festival held in Beirut in 1993 for his tireless pursuit of environment-friendly projects.
- A humanitarian: He established the Zayed Foundation for Charity and Humanitarian Works in 1992, capitalised to the tune of one million dollars. The foundation has since donated more than $460 million to various charity programmes and humanitarian projects spanning 96 countries.
- A vision in green: He promoted agriculture and development of water resources – at the time unthinkable for the arid desert. The total area of cultivated land in the UAE soared from 12,500 hectares in 1973 to 271,000 hectares planted with different types of trees.