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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 April 2019

New book details UAE's evolution over past 100 years

'A Tale of a Hundred Years - Zayed's Vision of the Future' to be released on Monday

Sheikh Zayed's life is explored through a series of anecdotes and interviews. National Archives
Sheikh Zayed's life is explored through a series of anecdotes and interviews. National Archives

A new book detailing the life and times of Sheikh Zayed is to be released on Monday as a tribute to the Founding Father’s legacy.

‘A Tale of a Hundred Years - Zayed’s Vision of the Future’ charts the history of the UAE as the seven emirates develop into the nation state that exists today.

The tome was put together by the Al Bayt Mitwahid Association, an organisation founded by a group of volunteers from the Crown Prince Court.

It honours Sheikh Zayed’s life through a series of anecdotes and interviews, focusing on his devotion to his country and its people.

Graphic: A century of progress
Graphic: A century of progress

“There is no other book about Sheikh Zayed this inclusive,” said Al Anoud Al Madhi, executive director of Al Bayt Mitwahid.

“It’s different because other books out there are either just written text about his story and achievements or a collection of photos.

“This one combines both in addition to anecdotes from people telling stories about Sheikh Zayed. It also includes statistics in a very easy to read way and for any age group.”

A Tale of a Hundred Years addresses four major themes synonymous with Sheikh Zayed’s rule: human development, wisdom, respect and sustainability.

Each represents a distinct passion of the late founder, who toured the country overseeing a wealth of programmes aimed at boosting the UAE’s development.

One project – the construction of the Falaj Al Sarouj irrigation system – struck a particular chord with the Father of the Nation.

Work began on building the 10km stretch in Al Ain in 1948 and took some 30 years to complete.

“It was the beginning of sustainability in the UAE,” said Ms Al Madhi.

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“And now we have Al Ain Oasis which was been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2011.

“We also have Al Bustan Ecological Centre and the Mohammed Bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund…all of these stem from Sheikh Zayed’s vision for sustainability.”

The book also tells the story of how Sheikh Zayed personally oversaw the construction of the Shuwaib Dam in the late eighties in Al Ain.

Officials recorded how he would arrive every day at sunrise and sit on a sand dune nearby “without a shade or tent” to ensure the project stayed on track.

“He always liked to check things himself so he spent 15 days overseeing the construction,” Ms Al Madhi said.

Born in 1918, Sheikh Zayed was the youngest of four brothers. He was appointed ruler of the newly formed UAE in 1971 and died in 2004 aged 86.

The new book also details two other lasting passions of Sheikh Zayed; that of healthcare and education.

It provides a chronology from the country’s very first health clinic donated by Sheikh Zayed in Al Ain in 1960 right through to the nation’s comprehensive healthcare system as it exists today.

More than 170 hospitals now assist patients from across the UAE, together with close to 17,000 doctors and some 50,000 nurses.

In another chapter in the book, its authors appear to shed light on a well-documented debate on the birthplace of Sheikh Zayed.

Historians have long argued over whether he was born in Qasr al-Hosn fort in Abu Dhabi or in Al Ain.

“There is one piece of information that was apparently miscommunicated to us throughout the media and text books,” Ms Al Madhi said.

“We were taught that Sheikh Zayed was born in Al Ain, but after going through research and interviews we were told he was born in Abu Dhabi.”

The book’s authors also tackle Sheikh Zayed’s influence on the UAE's progress in empowering women.

It cites his 2004 decree that the country’s cabinet be reformed to appoint the first female Emirati minister, Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi, as the Minister of Economy and Planning.

Since then, the government has continued to fill senior ministerial posts with women. Nine out of 31 positions now held by female ministers.

A copy of A Tale of a Hundred Years will be available for download from the Al Bayt Mitwahid Association’s website www.albaytmitwahid.ae.

The volume was the result of a collaborative effort between five individuals led by Ms Al Madhi, including experts from the UAE’s National Archives.

Updated: December 31, 2018 09:59 AM

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