ABU DHABI // Sheikh Mubarak bin Mohammed Al Nahyan, the country's first Interior Minister, died yesterday, leaving a legacy that helped to establish the nation's security infrastructure. The death of Sheikh Mubarak, who was in his late 70s, was announced by the Ministry of Presidential Affairs. It declared a three-day period of mourning, which began last night. The ministry expressed profound sorrow and extended solace to Sheikh Mubarak's family, the state news agency, WAM, reported.
The Office of the Ruler of Dubai mourned the loss of Sheikh Mubarak, as hundreds of people headed to the homes of his families to pay their respects. Funeral prayers would be held today after Duhur prayers at the Sheikh Sultan bin Zayed Mosque in Al Bateen, and mourners would pay their respects after Asr prayers at Al Mushrif Palace, WAM said. Sheikh Mubarak was appointed the country's first Interior Minister upon its union in 1971. He had earlier been entrusted by Sheikh Zayed, the late president, as a founding father of Abu Dhabi Police, becoming the director of the police and public security department in 1961.
The book Abu Dhabi Police, Fifty Years of Progress, published in 2007, the force's Golden Jubilee, says Sheikh Mubarak was awarded many medals, including the Zayed 2nd Order, the King Abdul Aziz Al-Saud Order and the Qatar Collar of Merit. It credits Sheikh Mubarak with creating police stations throughout Abu Dhabi and establishing border checkpoints. He was responsible for the formation of the General Committee for Police Affairs in Abu Dhabi, as well as being instrumental in creating the grid format for the emirate's roads.
The efforts that Sheikh Mubarak made in improving the force were great and were manifested by the graduation of several capable servicemen, according to the book. After he was injured in a car accident in Britain in 1979, the sheikh retired from public service. However, he was kept active by his son, Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak, the Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, who devoted much of his time to the care of his father.
In keeping with a family tradition, Sheikh Nahyan would drive his father around the capital, stopping frequently to ask after the well-being of families and people they encountered on the way. A close friend of the family said that, despite struggling with his health, Sheikh Mubarak received visitors to his son's majlis twice a day for more than 20 years, and remained active in social circles. One of his favourite pastimes was falconry. His last hunting trip was in Pakistan last November.
Sheikh Mubarak's contribution to the country's security was acknowledged by the current Minister of the Interior, Sheikh Saif bin Zayed, in 2007 during a ceremony marking the Abu Dhabi force's 50th anniversary. Then, Sheikh Saif referred to Sheikh Mubarak as a "unique leader with a vivid heart who has offered so much to the police and public security". Writing an introductory to the Golden Jubilee book, Sheikh Mubarak said: "I would like to seize this occasion to express my pleasure and happiness that I worked with this pioneering generation who took upon themselves the responsibility of launching the march of development.
"They worked and cared to see that all people felt secured and safe, and the benefits have reached everyone."
Sheikh Mubarak was one of the first heads of the UAE Football Association, taking up the leadership in 1971.
An award in his father's name for achievements in natural history was established by Sheikh Nahyan to be presented on behalf of the Emirates Natural History Group.