Sunday, November 02, 2008

UAE marks Zayed's death anniversary


Great men do not die as their achievements stand testimony to their grand vision long after they are gone.

The fourth death anniversary of Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan on Sunday provides an opportunity for the nation he envisioned to honour his memory.

Shaikh Zayed's stature as a leader was such that his biography could pass for the history of the nation. He is not just remembered as the country's founder but his legacy of prosperity and stability have left a lasting impact on the proud and vibrant nation of today. His achievements not only made for the prosperity of his subjects but also endeared him to them.

Just, sober and humane, his name still evokes superlatives in terms of events and attitudes.
This solemn occasion gives every citizen a chance to rededicate themselves to work to promote the ideals espoused by the legendary leader that have helped attain and sustain amazing levels of prosperity.

Over one billion Muslims worldwide remember his great deeds and allegiance to his country and Ummah. He was the epitome of charity and generosity and so his memory lives on.
When Shaikh Zayed sought to build a country, he set out to improve the human condition. He was able to strike a fine balance between noble ideals and real goals.

During his era (1971-2004), the UAE became one of the countries with the highest standard of living - the gross domestic product (GDP) stood at Dh314.81 billion in 2004 against Dh6.5 billion in 1971. He managed to establish a diversified economic base and the non-oil sector witnessed a surge from around Dh2.3 billion in 1972 to Dhs199.2 billion in 2003.

Noticing a lack of medical services in the country, Shaikh Zayed even, before he became the UAE President, invited the doctor couple (Dr Marian and Dr Kennedy) to set up a hospital in Al Ain in 1960. Towards the end of the decade, he ordered the setting up of the central hospital in Abu Dhabi. Not long after there were 37 hospitals and 110 health centres across the country.

Shaikh Zayed launched ambitious housing programmes for his subjects. Upon his instructions, the Ministry of Public Works launched a programme in 1973 that saw over 17,000 residential units coming up. About Dh72 billion was spent on the housing sector. It included construction of 42,000 houses and over 6,000 financial grants were offered to the UAE nationals.

Great men do not die as their achievements stand testimony to their grand vision long after they are gone. Shaikh Zayed left behind great human values and a national heritage. He began to serve his people even before he became President of the UAE. He was ahead of his time.

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