Sheikh Zayed: His charitable deeds live on

Sheikh Zayed: His charitable deeds live on
Sheikh Zayed: His charitable deeds live on

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He dedicated his life to the service of his country and people throughout his 33 years as UAE's leader,

'A symbol of love, generosity and tolerance'. It's a seven-word sentence that best sums up the legacy left behind by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. Not only was he the founding father of the UAE, he was father to all who lived within it too. Today, millions of Emiratis and expatriates across the country will fondly honour the memory of Sheikh Zayed as they mark Zayed Humanitarian Day.

Marked every year on Ramadan 19, the UAE dedicates the day to remembering the charity, achievements and good reputation Sheikh Zayed exuded throughout his tenure as the Ruler of the UAE, from its independence in 1971, until his death in 2004. 

Today, on the 14th anniversary of his death, his name continues to remain synonymous with kindness and generosity. Although he is no longer with us in person, the UAE people will all agree that his legacy certainly remains alive in spirit.

Celebrating his endless philanthropic efforts throughout his 33 years as the UAE's leader, Zayed was a man who dedicated his life to the service of his country and people. 

But more than just helping his people here in the UAE, he extended that giving nature to some of the world's most needy too. Sheikh Zayed had privately paid for the construction and annual running costs of hundreds of schools, orphanages and hospitals, in dozens of developing and third world nations. And he personally adopted more than 1,000 orphans too.

Known for his many inspirational quotes, one of the most memorable answers he gave was back in 1996, when responding to a question put forward by a foreign reporter in Geneva: "Why do you spend money lavishly on your people?," they asked, to which Sheikh Zayed replied, without hesitation: "If you have money, won't you spend it on your children? All my people are my children. 

Growing up in a family of leaders, he became a visionary who dedicated his life to the improvement of the country and humanity in general.

Named after his grandfather, Sheikh Zayed bin Khalifa Al Nahyan ('Zayed the Great'), Zayed followed in his grandfather's footsteps - a man is also known as a symbol of justice, generosity and courage.

While many leaders across the world inspire with their words, Sheikh Zayed was determined to take it one step further and made it a point of getting the people to truly understand their needs.

As a young adult, he travelled throughout Abu Dhabi, gaining a deep understanding of the land and its people. And after becoming the Ruler of the country, he travelled to Al Ain and worked with the tribesmen to construct and restore the falaj, the traditional water supply.

A few other instances showing the humanitarian side of the late Sheikh Zayed included his allocation of a special plane carrying donations to victims of the cholera epidemic in Somalia, ordering the airlift of Asian communities who left Kuwait for Jordan and Turkey following the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, and exercising the immediate dispatch of food aid to the Soviet Union as a contribution from the UAE in the 1970s.

The UAE celebrates Zayed Humanitarian Day on Ramadan 19, corresponding to the passing away of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, and has become a turning point in the history of the UAE. Celebrating the day commemorates a host of humanitarian achievements made by the UAE in the form of aid delivered to other countries and peoples. 

Zayed's humanitarian legacy

The late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan prioritised local and international humanitarian and charity issues. The amount of aid provided by the UAE till the end of 2000, as per his directives, totalled over Dh98 billion in the form of grants, loans and assistance. 

Palestine

> Sheikh Zayed Suburb Project in Jerusalem: Dh15 million

> Reconstruction of Jenin Camp: Dh100 million

> Sheikh Zayed City, Gaza: Dh220 million

Yemen

> 1972: Sheikh Zayed launched San'aa Radio

> 1974: $1.71 million to maintain television and radio projects

> 1990s: Emergency aid worth $3 million to deal with the effects of floods

Egypt

> October 1973 War: Sheikh Zayed covered the expenses of the rebuilding of the Suez, Ismailia and Port Said, which were destroyed by the Israeli attack in 1967

> 1990: $20 million to revive the ancient library in Alexandria

Syria

> Abu Dhabi Fund for Arab Economic Development signed three agreements in Damascus to fund industrial projects worth Dh911 million 

Pakistan

> Karachi, Lahore and Peshawar are home to three Islamic centres established by Sheikh Zayed to promote Islamic and Arab culture

> $500,000 was given in 1982 to establish the Islamic Chamber for Commerce and Industry in Karachi

Foreign aid 

> 1990: Dh3.1 million grant to support Chinese Muslims signed
> 1992: $5 million to the US Disaster Relief Fund to help the victims of Hurricane Andrew that hit the state of Florida
> 1993: $10 million to rescue people Bosnia and Herzegovina from adverse conditions

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Staff Reporter

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