02 November, 2006

The Remarkable Legacy of Sheikh Zayed

Forty years ago, in 1965, as a young journalist for the London newspaper, The Observer, I was privileged to be invited to lunch by Sheikh Zayed at the oasis of al-Ain, where he was then the governor. Sitting on a carpet spread under a tree, we ate a meal of lamb and rice and talked for a couple of hours -- or rather he talked and I listened. It was an encounter I will never forget.

Al Ain was then a very simple place, virtually unchanged for centuries. It consisted of half a dozen mud villages, linked by desert tracks, in which the population scratched a precarious living from a few patches of arable land. Near the place where we lunched was a pond in which he invited me to take a dip, a refreshing experience after the long and dusty journey from the capital. Tarred roads were then unknown and the desert encroached everywhere.

Water was scarce, but it was about water that Sheikh Zayed spoke most eloquently, explaining the vital importance of the network of underground water channels, aflaj in Arabic, which he was improving and expanding. He was a man who evidently loved nature. He gave me the impression that he knew every stone, every tree, every bird of his domain. Above all, he understood the importance of preserving every drop of water and putting it to productive use. Tree-planting was his passion.

No doubt, in his mind was a vision of the magnificent green city Al-Ain has since become. It is said today to be the greenest city in the whole of Arabia.

An article by Peter Seale, a leading British writer on the Middle East. Click here for more.

Two years have passed since our father left us, but it still seems as if it happened yesterday. May Allah have mercy on his soul & grant him a place in the highest ranks of paradise.

16 comments:

shansenta said...

It is extremely demoralising to note his absence in today's UAE.

Greenery, love of nature are the questions which we ol' timers like me would continually like to raise to current blinding concrete groth taking place here.

We miss you very much O' Father!

yawn said...

yawn

Anonymous said...

er,ok

Anonymous said...

With out our great leader(May he rest in peace)...the UAE would not be what it is today.

So please keep ur insenstive comments to ur self as we take it very personally

Anonymous said...

whatever

MD said...

Wow, what a response this post has got.

DG, thanks again for posting this. So much has changed so fast in these two years. Allah yr7ama Baba Zayed. There's only one Zayed and no one like him ever again.

yawn and Anon: stfu. Why waste time on a thread you don't care about? Go to Cyclone instead. Good for you.

Anonymous said...

For an expat's view on SZR, here is a post that I posted a few weeks back.

SZ on SZR aka A Political Autocratic Enigma

HLH said...

DG, MD.
This is a blog to point out the flaws of this country. They just want to talk about how Etisalat sucks, how the roads are congested (with them) how the rents are high, how there are no rights. Its not a place to talk about how good this place is and how good it has been to many of us and how much it has offered.
So I agree this post is out of place in this blog.
There is an arabic uae blog that welcomes the good variety. Maybe you should post your blog there DG.

simon said...

md: stfu & stop bitching,ok?what thin skins u have!

Anonymous said...

HLH, chill-out! It'd be interesting to read your post on Sheikh Zayed, as is DG's and SD's.

To each person (including I) living here, Sheikh Zayed is special in their own way, some choose to document it, some don't.

blogrosh said...

HL&H - there you go again? I mean, you have your views about the UAE community blog, which I can see/respect.

However, I can't see the point to - "So I agree this post is out of place in this blog. There is an arabic uae blog that welcomes the good variety. Maybe you should post your blog there DG"

Why continue to segregate & have a " let's keep to ourselves" mentality - there will always be insensitive people, no matter where you go. Just because couple of buffoons talk ill about Sheikh Zayed, his legacy is not going to be tainted or erased in anyway is it?

There are souls (like I & others) who are interested in DG's blog and since I do not read Arabic too well - DG's post has been very informative. Just like the recent post translating UAE national anthem to English.

rym said...

at least she has a skin.u dont even have that BRO

samuraisam said...

Can everyone please calm down the commenting.

If you think this site is somehow biased despite the fact its content is made up from over 100 members, please do not read it.

DG said...

Shansenta: I agree with you my friend. May Allah have mercy on his soul & grant him a place in the highest ranks of paradise.

Yawn, Anon@2241 & Anon@0854: I don't know what your religion or culture says about this, but we muslims are required not to say bad or negative things about our dead. If you don't have any positive thing to say, then at least don't say any negative thing. Remember, all of us have to die one day, whether we like it or not.

Anon @ 02:03: Thanks for your positive comment :-)

MD: Very well said "There's only one Zayed and no one like him ever again".

Dxbluey: Although I have objections to some words you used in your blog, but overall I think it was a good post. By the way, democracy is not perfect. If democracy brings leaders like Bush & Blair to power, then I think we are well off with our "autocratic" leaders.

HL&H: I agree with you, most posts & comments here are negative. But instead of boycotting this forum, why don't we effectively put forward our views & try to remove the misconceptions in the minds of people. What you say? :-)

DG said...

A world of Symphony: Thanks for your comment, I agree with what you said :-)

Blogrosh: Thanks for your positive comment, I am glad to know that you like my posts. God bless you :-)

Simon & Rym: Cool down my friends :-)

Samuraisam: The site is not biased, no one ever stopped me from posting my views here. I suppose you are also one of the admins here, I would like to thank you & SD for putting so much effort in running this website :-)

But I also have my reservations about the way some of my blogger friends comment here. You guys few days ago said that anon comments will not be allowed, what happened? Please switch on the comment moderation.

samuraisam said...

"But I also have my reservations about the way some of my blogger friends comment here. You guys few days ago said that anon comments will not be allowed, what happened? Please switch on the comment moderation."

The problem with comment moderation is that it takes someone to individually accept/reject every single comment; normally i'd be happy to help in this process, but for personal reasons I choose to have nothing to do with comment moderation.

For the record; Comment moderation is still enabled though it doesn't apply to any members.

If anyone has any problems with commenters, the best remedy is to ignore them; it's obvious some random person from whatever country has chosen to drop in here and throw a few anon comments around; typically they form simple stuff like "dubai is shit" and then go away to never return.

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