Tributes to Sheikh Zayed's humanitarianism were led by the Rulers
From tweets to mobile networks, UAE marks Zayed Humanitarian Work Day
The commemorations started early.
People woke to a new network name on their phones, with major operators du and Etisalat both changing their brands in honour of the special day.
From rulers to sheikhs to businesses, the country had come together to mark Zayed Humanitarian Work Day.
Falling on Ramadan 19, the date on the Hijri calendar that UAE Founding Father Sheikh Zayed died, Monday's tribute was especially poignant this year coming in the Year of Zayed.
Leading the tributes were the country’s leaders. Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, praised his late father’s humanitarian message.
“His wisdom crossed his country's borders,” Sheikh Mohammed wrote on Twitter.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, also took to social media, saying the day was a moment to reaffirm the need for humanitarian action.
“We celebrate his humanity,” Sheikh Mohammed tweeted.
Also paying tribute was Sheikha Fatima, wife of Sheikh Zayed, who said he created a shift towards supporting women’s development. "He encouraged and supported me to help empower women and motivate them to pursue their education,” the Chairwoman of the General Women's Union, President of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, and Supreme Chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation said.
“Sheikh Zayed looked forward to the day when he could see female Emirati doctors, engineers and ambassadors and his wishes came true.”
The sentiments flooded in throughout the day and also came from abroad.
Jose Graziano da Silva, director general of the Italy-based Food and Agriculture Organisation, said: “Sheikh Zayed was a man with a bright vision in areas related to agriculture, the environment and water. He helped turn large tracts of the desert green by investing in agriculture."
Sheikh Zayed became president in 1971. Until his death in 2004, he pursued an unrelenting mission to develop infrastructure, health care, tourism and the economy. But he also helped people across the globe and this has been carried on by the Rulers today.
According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the UAE was the world's largest donor of official development aid last year relative to its national income.
The country contributed Dh19.32 billion — 1.31 per cent of its gross national income. This represents twice the global target of 0.7 per cent set down by the United Nations.
This aid reached dozens of countries and a significant portion went to Yemen. Close to Dh14bn billion in relief was provided to the war-torn country between April 2015 and the same month this year, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation. About 66 per cent of this was directed towards development projects. The ministry works with Unicef, the World Health Organisation and others to make sure the aid reaches those who need it the most with the Emirates Red Crescent also instrumental.
Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed, the Ruler's Representative in Al Dhafra and chairman of the ERC said that Zayed Humanitarian Work Day was an important tribute.
“For us in the ERC, the Zayed Humanitarian Work Day is a time of self-reflection and self-assessment of our mission so as to improve programmes, forge more partnerships with community forces, and promote values on humanitarian giving,” he said.
“It will … increase our mobility to respond to disasters,” he said.
Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi, president of Zayed University, said because of Sheikh Zayed's pioneering initiatives, the living conditions of many needy people have been improved, while the Al Jalila Foundation noted the contributions from the community which supported life-saving treatment of children. Hessa bint Essa Buhumaid, Minister of Community Development, said the UAE had a long-term strategy underpinned by altruism, generosity and the desire to achieve sustainable social development, while Sultan Al Jaber, Minister of State and chairman of the National Media Council said the day was a chance to reflect on Sheikh Zayed’s role in establishing the country’s reputation as one of the most generous in the world.
People also took to social media on Monday posting tweets, photos and memories of the enduring legacy of the late President.