Abu Dhabi: In the true mark of an unsurpassed statesman and humanitarian, Shaikh Zayed gave to his country, and the world, without expecting anything in return and who translated every good thing he knew into action that could benefit others.
As an abiding and inspiring mark of deep respect to his outstanding achievements, each year, on the 19th day of Ramadan, Zayed Humanitarian Day is marked to remember his great achievements that have now become a guiding light for the UAE.
Goodness and kindness
The initiative was launched by the UAE Cabinet to highlight the key role played by Shaikh Zayed in supporting global charitable events and his acts of goodness and kindness for future generations to appreciate and emulate.
Shaikh Zayed receives former Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi. Photo: WAM/Gulf News Archives
UAE nationals deeply cherish the memories of Shaikh Zayed, as do people of different nationalities around the world who remember him for his extraordinary good deeds whose beneficial effects are being felt even today.
The sweep of Shaikh Zayed’s humanitarianism is vast and it has touched millions of lives. From launching housing projects for the needy to providing food and medicine for people suffering from poverty regardless of race, sex, language or religion, Zayed’s inclusiveness was globally encompassing.
History stands witness to his brilliant decisions and far-sightedness, one of which was to pass a resolution to establish the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development in 1971, at a time when he was still laying the foundations of the UAE’s union.
Shaikh Zayed employed wisdom and unflinching hard work in building his nation, a task which came with many challenges. His vision and efforts took the UAE from a sparsely populated desert settlement to a nation with dizzying records of achievements and prosperity, enabling the UAE to be counted among the most dynamic countries in the world in a record time.
Shaikh Zayed receives King Fahd Bin Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia in Abu Dhabi on April 8, 1983. King Fahd visited the UAE in the first year of his reign after succeeding his brother King Khalid Bin Abdul Aziz.
Shaikh Zayed believed that the country’s wealth from oil and gas should be devoted to assisting less fortunate countries and individuals. He expressed this very clearly when he declared: “We believe that the benefit of the fortune granted to us by God should spread to cover our brothers and friends.”
Highlights of Zayed’s humanitarian legacy
These are just a few instances of how Shaikh Zayed reached out to alleviate the pain of his fellow human beings around the world
1974: Shaikh Zayed allocates 28 per cent of Abu Dhabi’s income towards assisting Arab, Islamic, and developing countries.
Shaikh Zayed allocated funds for development assistance in needy countries.
1981: UAE emerges as one of the top aid donors to the world. The Abu Dhabi Fund for Arab Economic Development, another brainchild of Shaikh Zayed, in 1980 provided Dh 3.33 billion in foreign aid, covering development projects in agriculture and fisheries, transport and communications, water and electricity, housing and tourism and heavy industries. Over 75 international projects received support from the Fund.
1985: A special plane carries donations to victims of cholera epidemic in Somalia.
1987: More than Dh4 billion provided as foreign loans by Abu Dhabi Fund For Arab Economic Development (Adfaed) up to the end of December 1986.
A UAE plane prepares to leave with relief supplies for the victims of the earthquake in Afghanistan.
1990: Shaikh Zayed orders airlift of Asian communities who left Kuwait for Jordan and Turkey following the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.
1990: Shaikh Zayed orders an immediate dispatch of food aid to the Soviet Union as a contribution from the UAE.
1991: UAE sends a convoy of 36 trucks carrying 400 tons of food and other basic necessities for Kuwait along with a team of volunteers.
A hospital built by the UAE in Yemen.
1992: UAE despatches a large consignment of humanitarian aid, worth Dh4 million ($1.1 million), to the former Yugoslav republic of Croatia, for embattled Muslim refugees fleeing Serbian aggression in neighbouring Bosnia Herzegovina.
1996: Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Establishment for Charity and Humanitarian Services contributes Dh 1 million as relief assistance to the Azeri refugees.
1997: Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat lauded Shaikh Zayed support for the Palestinian cause and people through the years. Arafat said Shaikh Zayed’s donation of $3m to purchase foodstuff for the Palestinian people in the West Bank and Gaza Strip was a timely gesture of generosity.
2000: Under the directives of Shaikh Zayed, an Emirates special flight lands in Baghdad, a first by a GCC country, joining the global anti-sanctions campaign. The plane carries aid materials and a 30-member delegation.
2001: Shaikh Zayed contributes $1 million for the construction of the headquarters of the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) in Rabat, Morroco.
2003: UAE donates $500,000 to Pakistan in support of its anti-polio campaign, in line with Shaikh Zayed’s directives.
Shaikh Zayed orders the reconstruction of more than 400 houses in Gaza City and Rafah destroyed by Israeli forces and donates Dh20 million .
Compiled by Gulf News Archives