Accession of H.H. Sheikh Zayed as Ruler of Abu Dhabi

Accession of H.H. Sheikh Zayed as Ruler of Abu Dhabi

August 6
On August 6, 1966, His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan overthrew his brother, Sheikh Shakhbut Bin-Sultan Al Nahyan, in a bloodless palace coup in the Persian Gulf country of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Sheikh Zayed became the ruler of Abu Dhabi, the country's principal city. In 1971, Sheikh Zayad was appointed president of the country and held that post until his death in 2004. Sheikh Zayed's family had been rulers in the UAE for many years: his grandfather ruled the UAE from 1855 to 1909, and his father ruled from 1922 to 1926.
Sheikh Zayed's reign was marked by reform and the development of a modern, liberalized state. He used his nation's oil wealth to better the lives of his people. Education was his top priority, and many schools and colleges were built under his direction. He promoted sports among young people, both men and women, and built stadiums, training facilities, and a number of youth hostels and centers. Sheikh Zayed also built a modern army with state-of-the-art equipment and training. The troops have participated in UN peacekeeping activities, including the construction of an airport in Kosovo. Unusual in a Muslim nation, the media were allowed a large measure of freedom, although they could not directly criticize Sheikh Zayed or his family. Speaking of his policies, Sheikh Zayed was quoted as saying, "What is the benefit of wealth if it is not utilized to raise the standard of the people of the country?"
The day of Sheikh Zayed's accession to power is celebrated with a parade featuring floats carrying posters with Sheikh Zayed's portrait and pictures showing the development that the UAE has enjoyed due to his reign. A caravan of camels and other animals follows the floats. Other activities have included an opera concerning the ruler's life.
CONTACTS:
Embassy of the United Arab Emirates
3522 International Ct. N.W., Ste. 400
Washington, D.C. 20008
800-823-6911; fax: 202-243-2432