October 15, 2006

SZ on the SZR a/k/a/ a political autocratic enigma - #45

Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan - known most usually as Sheikh Zayed the "father" of the UAE.

The UAE's only ruler from its inception in the early 1970's to 2004 when he died.

I believe Sheikh Zayed to be a very unusual man and leader. Consider these facts:

A true autocratic leader with no desire for democracy, with an estimated "personal" fortune of over US$20 billion (the UAE accounts for 10% of the world's known oil reserves).

However this man built a nation. A nation that loved him. A leader that was known for his compassion, ideals, simple and traditional pleasures and his statesmanship abilities. The leader of 7 emirates that were previously fractured and troubled especially when the UK exited the area.

I find it quite incredible that power and money of this magnitude did not corrupt. I had only been in Dubai a short time before he was announced dead and there was a real sense of mourning in this country.

I can't think of any other unelected leader that has ruled for over 20 years that was so loved by the 20% of the population that are local Emiratis, by the 80% expats in the country and also by many ordinary and influential people around the world. A charitable and compassionate man.

Truly unique I think, much missed I am sure, long may he be remembered.

Sheikh Zayed on Sheikh Zayed Road. Dubai. UAE. 2006.


Meg Nakagawa said...

Yeah, unique! As a child when I learned about different government systems, I thought absolute monarchy under a nice king would be great, but he sounds close to that.

Gail's Man said...

I don't think his son Rashid is doing too bad a job. He is certainly making Duabi famous throught the world with Palm Island etc. Just wish the Indian construction workers got a better deal out of it with pay & conditions.

Lisi said...

Hey, Bluey...I admit I seldom read long commentary but this one is really interesting...gonna find out more from wiki...thanks!

Anonymous said...

Long live benign moderate theocratic autocracy!

Eric said...

Me, I'm always amazed at how in different countries they put up signs with the leader's photo. In France that would be really badly considered, but in a lot of arab countries it seems the norm.

Sally said...

...and in England - that elderly grey haired woman's portrait is EVERYWHERE!

Jing said...

Firstly, beautiful photo with the unique sign of the Arabic leader: Sheikh Zayed.
I know less knowledge of politics. Esp those people from Arabic world. They all are very mysterious to me, everything!!

But I am so interesting to know more!!


Zsolt72 said...

I used to live 18 years in a country being under autocratic leadership and a next 16 years being in democracy. I do not doubt that the former leader of the UAE was a great man, especially because I dont know too much about Arab countries.

But to me to see the portraits of the loved leader everywhere brings too bad memories. I have a father already...I dont need one more. All I need someone who takes a position (e.g. prime minister) rather as a job, as a profession. I am talking about my country here..and my personal wish about "leadership"..dont take my words bad pls.

Kala said...

you write a wonderful post on this ruler and perhaps it is not just about democracy that is important but about compassion for the fellow man that american leaders seem to sometimes forget. thanks for sharing