x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Leaders pay final respects to UAE media pioneer Sheikh Ahmed

Sheikh Ahmed was a close adviser and maternal cousin to the country's founding President, Sheikh Zayed, and uncle to the President, Sheikh Khalifa.

Under Sheikh Ahmed’s guidance, The National's Arabic-language sister paper, Al Ittihad, was launched in 1969.
Under Sheikh Ahmed’s guidance, The National's Arabic-language sister paper, Al Ittihad, was launched in 1969.

ABU DHABI // Sheikh Ahmed bin Hamed Al Hamed, the UAE’s first Minister of Information and Tourism, was laid to rest yesterday at Al Bateen Cemetery in Abu Dhabi.

Sheikh Ahmed was a close adviser and maternal cousin to the country’s founding President, Sheikh Zayed, and uncle to the President, Sheikh Khalifa. He passed away on Wednesday night in Abu Dhabi, aged 83.

At the funeral, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, was joined by Sheikh Saif bin Zayed, Minister of Interior and Deputy Prime Minister and Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, Minister of Presidential Affairs and Deputy Prime Minister.

Also paying their respects were Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, and Sheikh Hamdan bin Mubarak, Minister of Public Works.

Sheikh Ahmed was a member of the First Cabinet of Ministers, which was created after the Union.

Before that, he was in charge of Abu Dhabi’s Information and Tourism Bureau. Born in 1929, he was described as “a very shrewd and light-spirited person” by Dr Ali Mohammed Shumo.

Dr Shumo worked under Sheikh Ahmed as the under secretary of the Ministry of Information and Culture between 1973 and 1978 and is the current chairman of the National Council of Press and Publications in Sudan.

Sheikh Ahmed was the man who began the media industry in the UAE.

Under his guidance, The National’s Arabic-language sister paper, Al Ittihad, was launched in 1969.

He was also responsible for the launch of Abu Dhabi Television, Dr Shumo said.  Sheikh Ahmed worked with the late Sheikh Zayed before the formation of the UAE, managing many positions in Abu Dhabi. He remained a loyal and close adviser until Sheikh Zayed’s death in 2004.

He managed media for the Government during Abu Dhabi’s oil boom of the 1960s and 1970s.

Sheikh Ahmed led various departments within the government and was head of the Abu Dhabi Labour Department. He remained in his position as Minister of Information and Tourism, and later became Minister of Information and Culture, throughout the second, third and fourth Cabinets that were formed in the 1970s. this time he established Abu Dhabi’s first radio station and organised archaeological expeditions that supplied the first artefacts for the emirate’s museums.

One of Sheikh Ahmed’s key stamps on the country was ensuring the preservation of the UAE’s Islamic, national and cultural heritage at a time of rapid change.

amustafa@thenational.ae