Sheikh Zayed

A global leader and change-maker, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan was a world-renowned humanitarian and conservationist who advocated respect, sustainability, education and female empowerment. Born in 1918 in Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Zayed travelled extensively throughout the country as a young man, gaining a deep understanding of the land and its people.

In 1946, he was appointed as the representative of the Emirate’s Ruler in the Eastern Region. His wisdom and commitment to reform made him a popular local figure, who became well-known for his talents as a diplomat. In August 1966, Sheikh Zayed assumed  the position of Ruler of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. His inspirational leadership laid the foundations for the rapid social and economic development of the Emirate over the next half century. .

Among his many local and international achievements, Sheikh Zayed was the main driving force behind the unification of the seven independent emirates to found the United Arab Emirates in 1971. Affectionately known as the 'Father of the Nation', he was unanimously elected by his fellow Rulers of the Emirates to become the first President of the UAE, a position he held for more than three decades.

A central tenet of Sheikh Zayed’s philosophy as a leader and statesman was that the resources of the country should be fully utilized for the benefit of the people. His visionary stewardship steered the UAE on a path towards prosperity and modernisation, and played a key role in establishing the international reputation the nation enjoys on the world stage today. Sheikh Zayed’s passion for environmentalism, generous philanthropy and deep devotion to family life contributed to his unmatched popularity as a people’s leader and continue to serve as an example to us all.

Sheikh Zayed passed away in 2004, aged 86. The Founder’s Memorial was established in 2018 to coincide with the UAE’s national Year of Zayed, celebrating 100 years since his birth and enshrining his message and values in perpetuity as a beacon for generations to come.