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Farewell to Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan

Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, Sheikh Khalifa, Arab, United Arab Emirates, UAE


Farewell to Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan

With the demise of Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, president of the United Arab Emirates, the people of UAE has lost its beloved and widely respected leader who has played extremely important role in transforming the United Arab Emirates into a progressive and harmonious country that hosts about 200 nationalities and where people of all different religions, backgrounds and beliefs live peacefully.

Sheikh Khalifa was only the second president of the UAE and the son of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan, the founder of the country. Father and son shared many traits and leadership skills, but above all there was a general sentiment within Emirati society that categorized them both as father figures. They both treated their citizens like their own children, listening to their challenges and difficulties and dedicatedly worked for the well-being of the people. Standard of living of the people of the United Arab Emirates have been greatly improved through massive infrastructural developments, housing schemes, healthcare services, and education.

Sheikh Khalifa was a man of honor and a leader of peace. He believed in developing peaceful ties with countries all over the world, including his neighbors, and upholding international law.

The United Arab Emirates was ranked the happiest country in the Arab world for the sixth consecutive year in the 2020 World Happiness Report and it also topped the Arab world in the Global Competitiveness Report issued by the World Economic Forum in 2019.

What type of human being Sheikh Khalifa was? Here is one example. According to Turki Al-Dakhil, Saudi journalist and current Saudi ambassador to the UAE, who was an eyewitness to a memorable incident to UAE-based newspaper Al-Roeya: “As Sheikh Khalifa invited people for lunch, a man in his 70s stood and said, ‘Khalifa, how are you?’ He then replied with a smile, ‘Hello, how are you? How is your family?’” Highlighting the fact that the man did not address him “your highness”, which is the usual courtesy said out of respect, Al-Dakhil explained: “This was not a conversation between a citizen and the president of his country, this was more of a conversation between two dear friends. Many people there told me this was the norm with Sheikh Khalifa”.

In 2007, the late president ordered a 70 percent pay rise for federal government employees — the highest salary increase in the history of the country. The UAE today has one of the highest gross domestic product per capita rates in the world.

Forbes magazine named Sheikh Khalifa in its list of the most powerful people in the world in 2018, but he was not very interested in the media attention. He was a humble man who focused on prioritizing the interests of his country and its people.

The UAE Ministry of Presidential Affairs said on Friday there will be 40 days of official mourning, with flags flying at half-staff, and three days of closure for ministries and official entities at the federal and local levels, as well as the private sector.

The news of the passing of the president of the UAE, who ruled for about 18 years — he came into power in 2004 — was predominately received with sorrow, grief and genuine sadness in the 50-year-old country, while messages of condolence poured in from around the world.

Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan shall be remembered for decades and centuries for his greatest human qualities, his philanthropy, the bond between him and his people, and everything he has done for his country with absolute passion. Great leaders like Sheikh Khalifa may leave us physically, but their memory remains perpetual in our conscience.

On behalf of the editorial board of BLiTZ, we are extending our deepest condolence to the people of the United Arab Emirates and the members of the UAE royal family.

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Tajul Islam is a Special Correspondent of Blitz.

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