I prefer this one from his bedouin days in the late 1940s.
The bald facts:
- Full name - Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan
- Born - 1918. He was the youngest son of Sheikh Sultan bin Zayed bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, the traditional ruler of Abu Dhabi from 1922 to 1926.
- Died - 2 November 2004
- As a student - He received only a basic instruction in the principles of Islam, and went out into the desert with the Bedouin tribesmen, familiarising himself with the life of the people, their traditional skills and their ability to survive under the harsh climatic conditions. He was a natural though and loved the life of falcons and hunting, riding and living modestly.
- As leader - He was the ruler of the Eastern Region from 1946 before becoming the ruler of the whole Abu Dhabi.and was the principal architect and founder of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). He was the ruler of Abu Dhabi and president of the UAE for over 30 years (1971–2004). Zayed was first appointed (by the other six Sheikhs on the Supreme Council) to the presidency of the UAE in 1971 and was reappointed on four further occasions: 1976, 1981, 1986, and 1991.
In Al Ain he is especially revered because of his bedouin links and the fact that he lived in the eastern region of Al Ain for some time.
He is buried in an area adjoining the Grand Mosque. Photographs are prohibited as I found out on my first visit (a security guard watched me as I deleted the snaps I'd taken in ignorance) but it is in the same beautiful style as the mosque.
His grave is visible through some gates - it is very plain - with a white headstone. Emirati men take it in turns to read from the Holy Quran and this is broadcast 24/7 by loudspeaker to those who visit this area of the mosque. It's very moving!
Love and peace - Abu Keegan bin Graham