Best Successor for the Best Predecessor
To be the son of a noble man and a true leader no doubt is a delightful destiny، to be an extension of his characteristics, clearly reflected by a sound mind, vision and generosity, in other words, “Best Successor for the Best Predecessor”، this is the challenge that can only be met by an elite of men. Allah bestowed on them His generosity; strong beliefs, strong ethics, wits, a sound mind and the courage to establish justice، they prepared themselves to do great tasks by following in the footsteps of their predecessors and the wonders of their achievements hoping to improve on their achievements.
His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan is the model of these elite men. He was born in 1948 to a well established family in the city of Al Ain. He was the son of a man with all the noble qualities that qualified him to be the maker of history not just for Al Ain and the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, but also for the whole region by establishing the United Arab Emirates and developing it until it became an example to other Arab countries and the rest of the world.
Early Destiny with Responsibility
His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan was close to his father, Sheikh Zayed when he was the Representative of the Ruler of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi in Al Ain city and the Eastern Area previously ( Al Ain region currently). This period of his life was rich as he learnt the arts of leadership and administration. In 1969, three years after Sheikh Zayed had assumed power in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Khalifa, aged 21, was appointed the Crown Prince. This appointment was warmly received by the Al Nahyan Family and within local social circles because they all knew his good qualities and characteristics.
The fact that Sheikh Zayed was his role model helped him to carry out the tasks assigned to him. The most important thing that he learnt from his father at that period was, “be patient, forbearing and take things slowly in all matters and think so that we are not taken by surprise in any matter”. Since he was the elder son of Sheikh Zayed and his right hand in building the infrastructure of the country, he was very close to all the details and the daily life of the citizens. This closeness gave him a full life. Recalling the memories of his appointment as the Crown Prince, His Highness said, “I do not reveal a secret if I say that I did not know in advance about the decision made by His Highness my Father and although I was still young, I knew exactly the huge responsibility and duties.”
In 1969, when he became the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, the steps to establish the federal entity of the United Arab Emirates started to speed up. Sheikh Zayed was leading these steps. It was natural that, as Sheikh Zayed was deeply involved in building the federal state, he would delegate the major part of the burden of developing Abu Dhabi to the Crown Prince. The burden fell more and more onto the Crown Prince. On 2nd February 1969, he took over leadership of the Defence Department in Abu Dhabi and on 1st July 1971 he became Prime Minister of Abu Dhabi in addition to leading the Defence and Finance departments.
The Federal State
With the formation of the Union State on the 2nd December 1971 and its independence, the tasks of H.H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan increased. In addition to his local positions in Abu Dhabi, he assumed his first federal position when he was appointed the Federal Deputy Prime Minister; an important position that meant a lot in a country that needed comprehensive development starting from; the political which faced several regional challenges, to the economic which was challenged by the rarity of resources, to the social which needed human effort and resources that were not available.
The new role, despite its challenges, did not undermine Sheikh Khalifa’s enthusiasm. He talked about how challenges like these effect people, “Working moves in him an overwhelming happiness and motivates him to sacrifice and give more”. He completed the reorganization of the Emirates’ government body in a way that was appropriate for formation of the union state. He dismantled the local Cabinet, forming an Executive Council for the Emirate in its stead. H.H. became its Chairman on 20th February1974. Under this organization, it was determined that some facilities and services would be under local supervision while others would be attached to the federal government. This had a double effect: It enhanced the federal body by spreading its umbrella to include some local facilities whilst also maintaining some decentralization for managing daily affairs.
The distribution of tasks between local and federal levels also reflected Sheikh Khalifa’s role in the life of the Emirates. Since Abu Dhabi is the biggest Emirate amongst its sisters in the Union, and the one with the most resources, it managed and financed many of the federal establishments. This added to the burdens of His Highness, added as they were to his responsibilities leading the local affairs of the Emirate. These were important aspects of federal work that continued until he left his federal position as the Federal Deputy Prime Minister in 1974. He returned to this position in 1976, but this time he assumed the Deputy Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the United Arab Emirates role, following the historic resolution made by the Supreme Council of the Union to merge the Armed Forces under one Command and one flag. He was responsible for building these forces.
An important page in the history of the Emirates was the successful development of the federal armed forces. The United Arab Emirates’ balanced foreign policy and its care to weave good relations with its regional, Arab and international neighbours made it a country without enemies. This made the Emirati armed forces have a different role from traditional armies. Sheikh Khalifa focused on making the military establishment an impressive institute with multiple specializations. Several military colleges were established including educational institutes and air and marine colleges. Within ten years, the Emirati forces produced many leaders whose role in the country was not just limited to the military but who were also involved in civil work.
This feature of the Emirati military could be attributed to the vision and philosophy of Sheikh Khalifa, on which it was built. As much as he placed importance on building and developing the military in a manner that was appropriate for its role, he placed the same importance on building the state and its different bodies. His Highness said, “Building the state is a double task: It is building the strength and the strength of power. Building the army is parallel to, and in complete balance with, the civilian building process”.
The President of the State
In the final quarter of 2004, the wise leader of the Arabs, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan passed away and with his death the Emirates and its people lost a gracious and generous father and the Arabs and the world lost a leader. All eyes and hearts turned to the growing State to see who would lead it. The wait was not long. The wise Sheikhs of the Emirates and the Members of the Supreme Council of the Union, convened a meeting at Al Bateen Palace in Abu Dhabi to study and settle the matter.
This historic meeting was presided over by the late Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum in his capacity as the Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai. The meeting was attended by the Rulers of all the Emirates. They unanimously agreed to elect His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Ruler of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi as the President of the United Arab Emirates and issued a statement to declare their decision to the public. It said: Under Article 15 of the Permanent Constitution, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Ruler of Abu Dhabi, is unanimously elected as the President of the United Arab Emirates, successor to the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.
Their Highnesses, the Members of the Supreme Council of the Union, the Rulers of the Emirates confirmed during the meeting, chaired by the late Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum their sincere commitment to remain loyal to the distinguished principles of leadership and rule established by the late great Founder of the State. They also committed themselves to the noble and original values that he had established; justice, truth and goodness.
The Council expressed its full confidence that the people of the Emirates would remain as Zayed wished them; guardians of the union and its great accomplishments. They prayed that Allah bestow H.H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan all care and grace and guide him to serve the country and the dear people of the Emirates.
H.H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE President, expressed his appreciation for the precious confidence entrusted in him by his brothers the Rulers of the Emirates and confirmed that he was determined to continue the method of the late leader, following in his footsteps cooperating and in solidarity with his brothers their highnesses the Members of the Supreme Council of the Union in order to strengthen the Union’s progress. He committed to do everything that brought prosperity and stability to the United Arab Emirates and goodness for its people.
The Man and the Leader
H.H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan’s upbringing in Al Ain city had a special effect on him. The city, the second largest in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, was the base for many local tribes. This granted him ample opportunity to be directly aware of the concerns of citizens and made him close to their aspirations and hopes.
His Highness’s concern was evident during the developmental boom stage when he led many initiatives in the interest of nationals. Such initiatives received the blessing and attention of his father Sheikh Zayed who delegated many tasks, particularly in internal building. His Highness still follows the same method to serve his fellow citizens, in line with his father’s wisdom that, “Money is useless if it is not dedicated in the interest of the people.”
Outside and the inside the Emirates, H.H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan brought goodness, bearing the name of the Emirates, all over the world. The Emirates participated in everything for the good of people, all people, starting with brothers in nation, in religion and in humanity.
Research says the best way to express character in addition to the daily practice of good acts is the ideas that you believe in. These ideas can be identified by the statements people make which demonstrate their philosophy and ideas and presumably the way they act. The following are some examples that reflect the ideas and philosophy of H.H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE President.
At the National Level
“Our main goal in the United Arab Emirates is to build the country and develop the citizen. The major part of the country’s income will be dedicated to making up what we missed, as part of our endeavour to join the developed nations that are ahead of us and in an attempt to build our country”
“People are the true wealth of this country, before and after oil, and the best interests of the country is the goal that we are seeking day and night”
“Developing people is totally different from all other building processes because he/she is the main foundation of the comprehensive social and economic development and it is his responsibility to participate in the march of the nation”
“The biggest and greatest accomplishment that gives us pride is developing the people of the Emirates and also preparing and qualifying him/her to take his place building his country to rank alongside advanced countries”
“The most important projects are the ones that first develop people. People represent the best investment in our land. Investing in them secures their future and guarantees the security of our future generations”
“The wealth that this generation is enjoying does not belong to it alone, we are aiming to provide the best possible prosperity and stability for future generations by diversifying the sources of national income and establishing a strong economy”
“Citizenship is not just about always taking, before everything it is giving, to give even to the point of sacrificing oneself for the country because citizenship is a responsibility regardless of the citizen’s position”
“From now, we are thinking about how to face the future when the oil finishes. This can be achieved by diversifying national income early so that our economy does not continue to depend on petroleum. Developing people on this land is true wealth because money does not last and knowledge is the basis for progress”
“The United Arab Emirates is not obtaining arms to launch attacks, it does so because it believes that weakness encourages aggression and force is a way to support peace”.
At the Arabian Level
“In the United Arab Emirates we see Arab issues as interrelated issues, Arab pain is one. When Arabs suffer in occupied Palestine or in Lebanon, this suffering touches the sons of the Emirates. When we solve an Arab problem, the relief touches all of us. Pan Arab security is one and none of us feel safe while the house of his brother is crumbling and his safety and life are in danger.”
“The Emirates’ position on Arabic rights is a specific and clear one, it is not only agreement, it is continuous enforcement, support with everything we have. The Arabian Cause is one after all.”
“Any cooperation between Arabs even on a bilateral level is a positive thing and there is no contradiction between the joint Arab work and the Arab regional councils. We need to achieve integration between Arab resources.”
“Building bridges of trust between different Arab capitals facilitates solidarity. This enables us to utilize all available capabilities to face the challenges before us. We are required now, more than ever, to rise above the bilateral differences to meet and exchange views with ease and responsibility and agree on a specific and clear stance.”
“The security of the Gulf does not only mean from a military point of view, it should be considered from the viewpoint of protecting the region from pollution for instance. The security of the Gulf will be maintained if we establish around and inside the region a proper, protective and secure belt. The security of the Gulf will be established if we provide the people of the region food security that is not subject to fluctuations in world conditions. The security of the Gulf, after all, is an integral part of the pan Arab national security that cannot be achieved except with the Arab countries’ own power and the positive cooperation of all countries surrounding the Gulf.”
At the Global Level
“The United Arab Emirates will continue with its distinguished, civilized way of dealing with the outside world. It will continue to advocate for rights, call for relief for the aggrieved and build bridges of love, fellowship and cooperation between all people on earth to enable humanity, all humanity, to live in peace, prosperity and well being.”
“We are working honestly to avoid differences. The way of our wise leadership depends on patience, forgiveness and the call to follow the path of truth, justice, mutual respect, to avoid separation and to work on being supportive to each other in good times and in bad times.”
“Our firm policy in the United Arab Emirates is that we are a peace loving country and do not have expansionist or aggressive intentions against any country in the world. We respect international laws and customs, observe the right of brotherhood and neighbourhood and adopt the way of truth, justice and goodness.”
“As we continue with our foreign policy principles, we still have the same wish and look forward to the peace that the whole world is longing for. We wish for coexistence and to have the best relations. We believe that cooperation and understanding is the best way to achieve stability and prosperity.”
“The United Arab Emirates acts according to firm principles. It is working on enhancing its relations on the basis of mutual respect, understanding, dialogue, cooperation and denouncing all forms of terrorism, violence and extremism.”