How do we express our love and gratitude towards the father of this nation during the Year of Zayed?
“Great ambitions are inspired by big dreams. Sheikh Zayed dreamed of building a great country –his vision and perseverance built this nation.” – His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum on twitter.
2016 was named the Year of Reading in the United Arab Emirates for the main purpose of building an enlightened society, which in return builds a prosperous country. The people, with the guidance of the supportive rulers of the UAE, successfully managed to revive the nation’s dying love for reading through campaigns, competitions, and other opportunities. The aim of this incentive was to look back on past achievements in this area, such as the commencement of the yearly Sharjah International Book Fair in 1982 and use that as inspiration to achieve much more. By the end of 2016, the Arab nation witnessed many achievements, one of which was the announcement of the biggest library, named after His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid. The library will contain more than 4.5 million electronic, audio, and paperback books.
2017 was announced as the Year of Giving, the year of humanitarian incentive, in this year a giant helping hand of the Arab nation was extended to every country, community, or person in need. It is the year when Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid’s tears fell along with ours as Nawal AlSoufi delivered her speech in the Creators of Hope competition. That was a moment I will never forget and a moment that planted in everyone within this community a desire to do more good by the day, even if just through a smile or a friendly greeting.
On the fifth of August, HH Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan declared 2018 to be the Year of Zayed. While both the Year of Reading and the Year of Giving were rather specific in their purposes, the Year of Zayed is much broader in terms of its objective.
Baba Zayed, as we affectionately call him (may he rest in peace), was a man of many good deeds and innumerable accomplishments. He built a nation out of nothing and empowered this nation. He provided aid and assistance to other Arab, Muslim, Non-Arab and Non-Muslim nations and supported those in need. He loved his people – “his children” as he liked to call them – unconditionally and paved the road to a good life for them. Now, it is time for us to continue building what he started and to show our utmost gratitude towards everything he has done for us.
Like how Baba Zayed excelled and left his fingerprint in various fields, our objective in the Year of Zayed must be inclusive of all those different fields, as well. In terms of education, he considered the youth to be the real fortune of the nation and encouraged them to complete their education, in order for this nation to prosper. To keep this legacy alive, we must continue to not only inspire the future generations to learn about the value of education, but also to push them to pursue their own interests.
In Al Ain, Sheikh Zayed prohibited cutting trees, even if they were in the middle of a street. Instead, construction workers had to pave the road around the trees. Sheikh Zayed’s sense of obligation to care for the environment gives us the incentive to do so as well. One prominent way our leaders are following Sheikh Zayed’s vision is through the Zayed Future Energy Prize. This prize incentivizes innovation, renewable energy, and sustainability. The best method to follow and develop those past successes would be firstly by raising awareness regarding climate change and then working towards maintaining a sustainable environment, as well as providing the youth opportunities to work with and learn more about renewable energy.
Sheikh Zayed was also benevolent in many other areas. Some of those are charity, preservation of culture and traditions, humanitarian missions, and international affairs. In addition, his initiatives were always influenced by his Islamic beliefs.
Baba Zayed was and still is an inspiration to not only the Emirati and Arab nations, but also to the world as a whole. We must, through the Year of Zayed, pay remembrance to his undying memory and express our gratitude through our good deeds and by following his footsteps.