x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Remembering Zayed: UAE rulers praise legacy of founding father

Remembering Zayed: The founding President was loved and cherished by the peoples of the world because of his good works and generosity, says Sheikh Mohammed.

Orphans at an iftar organised by Al Ihsan Charity Association at the Ramada Hotel in Ajman.  Satish Kumar / The National
Orphans at an iftar organised by Al Ihsan Charity Association at the Ramada Hotel in Ajman. Satish Kumar / The National

A wave of charitable events have been held across the country in honour of founding President Sheikh Zayed's humanitarian legacy.

This Ramadan 19, the ninth anniversary of the late President's passing, was officially designated Sheikh Zayed Humanitarian Work Day by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai.

At an event at Dubai World Trade Centre, Sheikh Mohammed paid tribute to Sheikh Zayed, the "founding father and leading philanthropist". He said the day would "commemorate Sheikh Zayed's spirit of giving and to promote the Emirati culture of giving, the foundation of which he had laid".

The Sheikh continued: "Brothers and sisters, Sheikh Zayed's name has become synonymous with generosity and giving, not only in the UAE, but in the whole world. The late Sheikh Zayed never liked talking about what he gave. He was loved and cherished by the people of the world.

"He was like the knight who rushes when he hears a cry for help. His legacy is living in the memory of our country and other countries. One can never forget his stands with the people of Palestine that translated into residential, educational and health projects, his firm position on the leading Arab cause, his support to the victims of the humanitarian plight in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the cities he built in Egypt, Morocco, Pakistan and other countries, the hospitals, the schools and the orphanages in tens of Asian and African countries."

President Sheikh Khalifa said Sheikh Zayed's philanthropic legacy inspired "UAE people and community organisations to donate generously in support of the needy and vulnerable segments within the UAE and abroad".

The day was supported nationwide by charities, ministries and organisations eager to pay tribute to Sheikh Zayed.

Emirates Post Group distributed 1,300 iftar meals to mosques and 1,800 to labourers over two days in Al Muhaisna, distributed by volunteers from Emirates Post Group and Dubai Volunteer Centre.

Emirates Post Group chief executive, Fahad Al Hosani, said labourers were "a section of community that deserve attention and appreciation".

Elsewhere in Al Muhaisna, the Noor Dubai Foundation performed free eye tests and distributed thermos flasks and information packs to 525 labourers at the Fitness Medical Centre.

Dr Manal Taryam, Noor Dubai Foundation's chief executive, said the event marked the end of a two- week campaign following in the humanitarian footsteps of Sheikh Zayed.

"There are still people and generations who are benefiting from Sheikh Zayed's work. Even future generations will.

"We are concentrating on labourers because these people serve our country and we need to make sure they are served the way they should be," she said.

Ten of the 15 volunteers present were members of the group 1971 Team. The group's co-founder, Khalifa bin Hendi, said it had joined forces with Social Bandage and Noor Foundation, to serve the community. 1971 Team usually offers volunteers in Ramadan to help sick children and hand out free iftars, he added.

Mr bin Hendi said: "I would like all the youth to participate in this day that honours of Sheikh Zayed, and I would like them all to serve their country, which gives them a lot."

Al Jaber Optical works with other charities and the government throughout the year, giving free glasses to the needy. Yesterday it provided prescription glasses to 35 labourers.

Its general manager Saleh Al Shewa, said it was inspired by Sheikh Zayed.

"That's why we are always involved with any charitable activity that can help people in the UAE," he added.

Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Charitable and Humanitarian Foundation hosted a photo exhibition in the Abu Dhabi Ministry of Interior's Licensing Department in the morning, and a lecture about Sheikh Zayed's work at the Police Club at night. The foundation, which Sheikh Zayed founded in 1992, funds mosques, Islamic cultural centres, scientific research centres, health and educational institutions, and provides disaster relief, locally and internationally. It has spent over Dh1.5 billion on humanitarian causes to date.

Adopt-a-Camp finished assembling 5,000 care packages at Dubai World Trade Centre's Sheikh Rashid Hall, to be distributed to labourers at a private event tomorrow. The packages contain three months' of toiletries, one month's of energy food and other basic items such as bedding, clothes, plates and energy drinks.

The groups' Ramadan Care Packages event has partnered with Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry for three consecutive years. Six thousand volunteers helped assemble the packages yesterday. Saher Sheikh, Adopt-a-Camp founder, said the group was "humbled and honoured" to be associated with Sheikh Zayed Humanitarian Work Day.

The Telcommunications Regulatory Authority contributed to clothing 300 orphans and supporting needy families of prisoners.

Mohammed Al Ghanim, TRA Director General, said the entire country was indepted to the visionary efforts of Sheikh Zayed.

"Donating to those less fortunate in our society, especially during a time like Ramadan, is a fantastic way to show our respect," he added.

The TRA's programme was carried out with the Ministry of Social Affairs, who co-ordinated the scheme, plus others held across the country. Each Emirate's ministry centre gave out donations and free iftars to labourers, orphans and the needy.

Ajman, Umm Al Quwain, and Fujairah social services centres hosted exhibitions of Sheikh Zayed photographs of Sheikh Zayed after Isha prayer.

The Ras Al Khaimah centre promoted the 'Clothing One Million Children', 'Big Heart' and 'Egypt in our hearts' campaigns. President Sheikh Khalifa's Egypt In Our Heart, carried out by the Red Crescent, aims to help Egyptians struggling after years of political turmoil. Big Heart, launched by Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, provides shelter, food and education to displaced Syrian children.

Emirates ID customer service employees visited people with special needs at Abu Dhabi's Ewaa Center, giving out gifts to the elderly and to children. At Al Ain customer service centre staff gave out iftar meals, fruits and gifts to labourers at the Mayzad labour camp.

The Al Fujairah Center visited Al Madina Hospital's paediatric section, giving out gifts to children. In Ras Al Khaimah, staff gave free iftar meals to labourers in the Sudoura and Awafi areas. Meanwhile, Emirates ID has sponsored the Red Crescent's nationwide iftar campaign all Ramadan - providing more than 1,650 meals a day.

In Umm Al Quwain, the Ministry's Al Sala Area Community Development Centre hosted a short film and a presentation. FNC member Dr Shaikha Al Ari gave a speech and the Ministry gave out Eid donations.

UAE Financial Markets Assocation also held an auction at Atlantis Palm Jumeirah. Jewellary from Damas and Al Anwaar, a Montegrappa pen, three paintings and two abayas incorperating Sheikh Zayed's poems were auctioned with proceeds going to Dar Al Ber Society.

halbustani@thenational.ae