x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Our nation proudly fulfils the dreams of its beloved Father

Your presence is still inside our hearts and mingled with our souls. Your successors, our sheikhs, are taking care of the Union and this land, just as you once did. They are fulfilling your dream.


Even though you are no longer with us. Even after the flags were lowered and the world passed on its condolences. Even though seven years have now passed. 

Your presence is still inside our hearts and mingled with our souls. Your successors, our sheikhs, are taking care of the Union and this land, just as you once did. They are fulfilling your dream.

We are keeping faith with our Islamic values, upholding the responsibility to build and to give back, as our leaders would wish. Father, we are listening to the wisdom of our elders, preserving the nature of this land. We will always be united, as the Emirates, and as a people.

We remember when you would suddenly stop, and order your men to stop, when you noticed a woman walking in the distance, who wanted to talk to you. We remember that you would take the time to talk to everyone, to ask who his father was, or where he came from, to talk about his interests, to ask if he needed anything. We remember how you would come to our schools on National Day and we remember how your right hand rose high in the air to greet us every time we saw you.

We all loved you and from what we learnt of your words and your actions, even from afar. But those who lived with you every hour, and witnessed more, they still talk about you as if you were here, as if they had just come back from your majlis.

Saeed bin Dray Al Falahi, one of those closest to you, recalled what you were like recently in a television interview. How you never refused a request from anyone, even from those who were not your citizens. 

He remembers a night after taraweeh prayers in Ramadan, when you refused to eat until those who were with you were fed. And how you would pick the best dishes and serve them to others first. 

There was a time, Al Falahi recalled, when his phone rang. The caller was an Arab woman, asking for help. After she finished speaking, Al Falahi told you the reason for her call.

You stopped the meal, Al Falahi said, and gave him your full attention. The woman had been in tears, Al Falahi explained, saying that her husband’s business was in trouble, that he had lost everything and was now in prison. 

She was in tears, saying that she could no longer feed or clothe her children. “I want you to tell Sheikh Zayed that I don’t want to stay in this land,” she said. “Just bring me back my husband and I will go back to my country.” 

And then, Al Falahi recalled, you ordered that the woman should be reunited with her husband before the sun set that day. And that, if he had not committed a crime, that the man’s debts should be paid. And to tell her this country is not an evil place, but a country of kheer, or goodness. And to give the family whatever they needed.

When Al Falahi gave her the good news, the woman fell down in tears once more, he said. Then Sheikh Zayed ordered Sheikh Saif Bin Zayed, Minister of the Interior, to release all prisoners and pay their debts. 

Today all the rulers of the emirates copy your gesture. Al Falahi said the woman continued to call you until you left us forever, always in tears and thanking you for your generosity. 

 Do you remember, my father, the Canadian lady in a scarf, who greeted you once? She said to you: “I have been living in Abu Dhabi and it is so beautiful that I love it and don’t want to go back to Canada.” And you told her that it was now her responsibility to tell her people about what she had seen here.

It is the responsibility of everyone living in this country, enjoying its wealth, drinking from its waters, to love this land, to persevere at everything. This is what matters. If a person’s intentions towards this country are pure and good, it will pay back that person in the same way. This is how the Creator wants us to live, in sincerity and tolerance. And so, here is one more thing that we learned from you, father.

Ubooya, Highness, last year, Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, the Ruler of Sharjah, said something that touched us all. Receiving your book award, he said: “I call upon everyone in the audience and viewers at home, mothers and fathers, take your pen, gather your children around you and start writing: ‘Things Zayed liked’ and ‘Things Zayed disliked’.

“Let us gather these papers and not display them on shelves or incorporate them in our songs but in our very core and as the introduction to our constitution.”

This is how you can be repaid. You are going to always be the reference for every man and woman who calls you father. You are in the hearts of young and old. We still feel your spirit in the air. When your words appear on television or radio, all fall silent and the whole nation listens. As the roots of the many palm trees you planted are growing stronger every day, so the roots of your children, the men and woman of this land, have also flourished.

We remember one of the greatest years in our history, the silver jubilee of the UAE in 1996. Our 25th anniversary was also the 30th anniversary of your accession as Ruler of Abu Dhabi. This was also the year when the emirates hosted the Asian Federation Cup final. 

We also celebrated your safe return from an operation abroad and everyone took to the streets to watch you pass by. We still remember the songs from that year. It was a national celebration. We rejoiced, just as we rejoice today.

I wish you were with us today, to see how every house has raised the national flag, as if it was an embassy. Every woman and girl will put on their best kandura anddecorate their hands and nails. Even the young will wear burqas and emphasise their eyes with kohl. Eyes that will still fill with tears when your name is mentioned.

We will put on our best gold jewellery and celebrate. This happiness in our hearts is not for show. It is real. Today we are celebrating your success. We are living the future you were so optimistic about.

Sayyedi, 40 years has passed since it all began. In most faiths, 40 is the age of enlightenment and wisdom. It was the age when the Prophet received his first instruction from Allah. They say that a person becomes intellectually mature at this age.

This land and its people have matured. We see the union with a different eye. We see it as an inheritance that must be carefully tended. We both look forwards and attend to the past, just as you would have wanted. The dream continues.

Ubooya, Father, you once said: “I am optimistic about the future of this country, and the future of this people. Our ancestors have been building for this generation, and the young now must build for the future generation. 

“When any of us works for his home country, he works to achieve two goals. The first one is to satisfy Allah who created him in the first place. And the second goal is to see the fruit of his endeavours.

So if each one of us does their work with perseverance, our work will last and be celebrated throughout the years, for the coming generations. And this cannot be matched by any amount of wealth – because wealth is bound to end, and has no value without dedication to work.

The nation knows its faithful sons and daughters, and is proud of them.” I, and every child of this land remains loyal to the promise. We will make you proud of us.