Memorable Picture of Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid with Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan in 1991
Sheikh Zayed was born around 1918 in Abu Dhabi although the exact date of his birth is unknown. He was the youngest son of Sheikh Sultan bin Zayed bin Khalifah Al Nahyan. His birth date is also reported to be 1916. His father was the ruler of Abu Dhabi from 1922 until his assassination in 1926. Zayed was named after his grandfather, Sheikh Zayed bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, who ruled the emirate from 1855 to 1909. At the time of Zayed’s birth, the sheikhdom of Abu Dhabi was one of seven Trucial States along the coast of the lower coast of the Persian Gulf.
Sheikh Zayed was determined to bring the Emirates into federation. His calls for cooperation extended across the Persian Gulf to Iran. Sheikh Zayed advocated dialogue as the means to settle the row with Tehran over three strategic Persian Gulf islands which Iran seized from the (future) UAE Emirate of Sharjah in 1971. The islands remain in Iranian hands, despite over three decades of UAE diplomatic initiatives.
Using the country’s enormous oil revenues, Zayed built institutions such as hospitals, schools and universities and made it possible for UAE citizens to enjoy free access to them. Other charitable acts included adopting hundreds of orphans and building several hospitals abroad in Europe, Asia, and Africa.
In 1999, while he was hospitalized and undergoing a series of tests, the people of the UAE wrote him a personal thank-you letter. He underwent a kidney transplant in 2000 at the Cleveland Clinic in the U.S.
On 2 November 2004, Zayed died at the age of 86. He was buried in the courtyard of the new Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi.