x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

The man: his thoughts on poets and painting

Sheikh Mohammed gives the public a glimpse into his private life, as a family man, artist and humanitarian.

In his responses to questions, Sheikh Mohammed gave the public a glimpse into his private life as a family man, artist and humanitarian. The Prime Minister offered fatherly advice, mused about his favourite poets, shared his dreams for the UAE, and reflected on his philanthropic work. He also described his decades-old relationship with Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, President of the UAE. "We have known each other since we were young men and we managed to better get to know each other when the union meetings started," he wrote.

"Since the establishment of the Federation of the UAE in December 1971, we have been working, each in his position, for the interest and prosperity of the country and the people." He expressed great admiration for Sheikh Khalifa's father, the late founder of the UAE, Sheikh Zayed. He said could see similar qualities in the current president. "Sheikh Khalifa has inherited his father's wisdom and foresight, generosity, patience and his support for the poor and downtrodden," he wrote. "He is a leader who is truly devoted to serve his country and his people."

In raising his own children, Sheikh Mohammed remarked that it was important to follow the teachings of Islam and authentic Arab values - "have an open mind, along with tolerance towards others' cultures and experiences". Along with encouraging his children to pursue athletics and healthy lifestyles, he said he also tried to instil in them a sense of social responsibility. "I teach them that they have been destined to be the children of a ruling family and that they should be role models in work and behaviour for other young people," he wrote. "I also teach them to do their best to serve their country and its people."

Aside from his achievements as a father, his life's ambitions stemmed from national pride. Asked what his ultimate dream was, he answered: "To see the UAE more prosperous and flourishing with well-being and happiness of its people. I want to see the UAE as a model of excellence and innovation, leading the way, not only in our region and the Arab world, but in the whole world." As for poetry, another passion, he said his favourite classic Nabati poets included Al Mutanabi, Al Buhtouri and Abu Tamam, while he also enjoyed the modern works of Ahmed Shawky and Hafez Ibrahim.

"Generally, I appreciate the beautiful verses of any poet." mkwong@thenational.ae