Mohamed Bin Zayed: A man of the people

May 14, 2022
Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed, who has been elected as UAE President on Saturday, has dedicated his life to his country and to public service.
Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed, who has been elected as UAE President on Saturday, has dedicated his life to his country and to public service.

ABU DHABI — The life of Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed, who has been elected as UAE President on Saturday, has been one of public service and dedication to his country.

A soldier and long-serving leader, Sheikh Mohamed, who is also ruler of Abu Dhabi, was born in Al Ain in 1961.

He is the third son of UAE Founding Father, the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

At the time of Sheikh Mohamed's birth, Sheikh Zayed was Ruler's Representative in the Eastern Region.

At that time Abu Dhabi had discovered oil three years earlier and huge developments were taking place.

Sheikh Zayed was also leading talks to form a new country. When Abu Dhabi became part of the UAE in December 1971, Sheikh Mohamed had already turned 10.

Sheikh Zayed became the new country's first President and his son found himself increasingly in the public eye.

Despite the path that was developing for the future leader, photographs from this time also show him enjoying the simple pleasures of childhood such as playing on a swing or sitting proudly on his horse.

In the late 1960s, he had enrolled at the Al Kindi Primary School where a famous photograph shows him sitting at a desk with his books. His public life started early. In April 1971, Sheikh Mohamed was given the responsibility of presenting the opening of the school’s first exhibition.

By 1979, Sheikh Mohamed had graduated from the prestigious Sandhurst Military Academy in the UK. He was greeted on his return to Abu Dhabi by Sheikh Zayed and the moment was captured in a famous photograph by Al Ittihad newspaper.

A life of public service beckoned and that same year, now an officer in the UAE Armed Forces, Sheikh Mohamed accompanied Sheikh Zayed to Saudi Arabia for the country’s annual military maneuvers.

Sheikh Mohamed also inspected the UAE Armed Forces in Kuwait and participated in its peacekeeping mission to Kosovo, a milestone moment for the military.

When Sheikh Zayed died in 2004, Sheikh Khalifa became President and Sheikh Mohamed became Crown Prince and Deputy Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.

Since then, his dedication to the development of the UAE and the happiness of all Emiratis and residents has continued.

He has also become a familiar figure on the world stage, welcoming US President George W Bush to Abu Dhabi in 2008 and, as recently as last year, meeting British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in the UK.

Sheikh Mohamed also provided vital and reassuring support during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I'd like you to keep this in mind, this time shall pass," said Sheikh Mohamed in 2020, as the world grappled with the pandemic and uncertainty gripped the world. "But it requires some patience."

By the end of last year, Sheikh Mohamed could deliver a message of hope as he declared that the UAE had “overcome the COVID-19 crisis” and called on people to return to normality.

Sheikh Mohamed also said watching videos of residents singing the UAE national anthem to praise the front-line heroes for their fight against COVID-19 had moved him to tears.

MBZ, 61, had already been wielding power for years during which he led a realignment of the Middle East that created a new anti-Iran axis with Israel and invested in the UAE military, which coupled with its oil wealth, extended Emirati influence.

Proof, as ever, that Sheikh Mohamed remains a man of the people. — Agencies

May 14, 2022
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