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Zayed bin Sultan an-Nahayan
Arabic: zāyad bin sultān 'an-nahyān

Zayed bin Sultan an-Nahayan
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Zayed bin Sultan an-Nahayan
ZOOM - Open a large version of this image

(1915- 2004) President of United Arab Emirates (UAE) 1971- 2004, emir of Abu Dhabi 1966- 2004.
His ruling style since his time as governor has been based on maintaining a good relationship with his subjects and the aid of highly trained advisors. This style, and the success of his native Abu Dhabi in the late 1960's, provided encouragemet for the rulers of other neighbouring emirates to join in forming the UAE.
Through most of the 1970's, his rule was hindered by a personal rivalry with the Vice President of UAE, Shaykh Rashid al-Maktum of Dubai. Only after a national call for democracy was expressed, did the two join forces.
His foreign policy has been pragmatic, and his alliances with other Gulf States has usually been in line with those supported by the USA.
Zayed is correctly considered to be the father of modern UAE, creating a moderate Muslim state with few poor people and high average living standards. His personal lifestyle has been modest and traditional. Despite forming a moderate Muslim state, he is reported to have been a pious Muslim.
His personal fortune has at one point been estimated at US$ 20 billion, which made him one of the wealthiest men in the world.


1915: Born in Al-Ain oasis, into the ruling family of Aal Nahayan, which ruled over the Aal Abu Falah tribe.
1946: Becomes governor of ther eastern province of Abu Dhabi, ruling from his native Al-Ain.
1966: His brother, and ruler of Abu Dhabi, Shaykh Shakbut, is overthrown following his unwillingness to use oil revenues for economic development. Zayed becomes new ruler of Abu Dhabi.
1971 July: The UAE is formed, with Zayed as the strongest leader. Zayed is elected president, and appoints a cabinet headed by a premier minister, reporting directly to him.
1973 December: A 50 member strong consultative council is appointed, called the Federal National Council, ruling the UAE as a single unit.
1976: Reelected president.
1981: Elected for his 3rd term as president.
1986: Elected for his 4th term as president.
1991: Elected for 5th term as president. Following this, there were no more reelections.
2004 November 2: Dies, and is succeeded by his son, Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahayan.

By Tore Kjeilen