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.