100 years since the birth of
Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan

To commemorate the 100th birthday of the late founding father Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the UAE will mark the year 2018 as the 'Year of Zayed'. The President, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, announced the decision during the anniversary of the late Sheikh Zayed's Accession Day - the day he assumed leadership in Abu Dhabi on 6 August 1966 - which marked the start of a new epoch in the history of UAE.

1918

A LEADER WAS BORN

Born in the city of Al Ain, Sheikh Zayed was the youngest of the four sons of Sheikh Sultan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Ruler of Abu Dhabi from 1922 to 1926.

1946

APPOINTED AS THE RULER’S REPRESENTATIVE OF THE EASTERN REGION

In 1946, Sheikh Zayed was appointed as the Ruler's Representative of the Eastern Region. Immediately after his appointment, he was involved in government affairs in Al Ain city, the region’s administrative seat.

1950

THE DISCOVERY OF OIL IN ABU DHABI

The discovery of oil in the late 1950s changed the whole economic landscape of Abu Dhabi as it marked the tangible start of its development. In 1962, as the emirate began exporting oil, it was immediately apparent that an innovative vision of governance was needed to address the new challenges and to optimize the utilization of oil revenues. The Al Nahyan family unanimously chose Sheikh Zayed as the new ruler of the emirate on August 6, 1966.

1966

BECOMING THE RULER OF ABU DHABI

In August 1966, Sheikh Zayed became the Ruler of Abu Dhabi, with a mandate to develop the emirate as quickly as possible. His years in Al Ain had given him valuable experience in government and time to develop a vision of progress. With the export of the first cargo of Abu Dhabi crude oil in 1962, Sheikh Zayed could rely on oil revenues to start an infrastructure overhaul, constructing schools, housing, hospitals and roads.

1966

ESTABLISHMENT OF A MODERN FORMAL GOVERNMENT WAS ANNOUNCED, DAYS AFTER SHEIKH ZAYED ASSUMED OFFICE

A few days after assuming office, the establishment of a modern formal government with its ministries and departments was announced and the new government entrusted with the task of conducting the affairs of the state.

1966

MAJOR REFORMS IMPLEMENTED BY SHEIKH ZAYED UPON HIS APPOINTMENT AS RULER OF ABU DHABI

Understanding that the future of the emirate would need to look beyond the energy source, Sheikh Zayed implemented major reforms such as modern education, healthcare, public housing, and general urban development.

"We must not rely on oil alone as the main source of our national income. We have to diversify the sources of our revenue and construct economic projects that will ensure a free, stable and dignified life for the people."

1968

THE WITHDRAWAL OF BRITISH FROM THE GULF

In 1968, the British government, under pressure from adverse economic conditions, announced the termination of all of its treaties protecting the Trucial States and of its intention to withdraw from the Gulf by the end of 1971.

1968

Japanese expertise utilised to design the city

In the late 1960s, Sheikh Zayed hired Dr. Katsuhiko Takahashi, a Japanese architect, to design and plan the city.

"They used to say that agriculture has no future [in the UAE ], but with God's blessing and our determination, we have succeeded in transforming this desert into a green land.”

1968

SHEIKH ZAYED UNDERSCORED THE IMPORTANCE OF UNION

Soon after assuming power on August 6, 1966 as the Ruler of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Zayed underscored the importance of union. The significance of unity and the need to work in cooperation with the other emirates was thus ingrained in Sheikh Zayed’s thinking very early in his career. Because of these new forces that had been set in motion, Sheikh Zayed, Ruler of Abu Dhabi, along with Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, then Ruler of Dubai, promptly initiated the move towards establishing a federation. This federation aimed to be the nucleus of Arab unity and to protect the potentially oil-rich coast from the ambitions of more powerful neighbouring countries.

“In harmony, in some sort of federation, we could follow the example of other developing countries”.

1968

THE SIGNING OF AL SAMIH AGREEMENT

On February 18, 1968, they signed Al Samih agreement, which resulted in major changes that set the stage for the discussions of the Union of the Nine that took place among the seven emirates, and Bahrain and Qatar later on. Finally, this led to the unification of the emirates under the name the “United Arab Emirates” after both Bahrain and Qatar announced their independence.

1971

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES FORMED

2nd December 1971 marks the UAE's Union Day. This is the day when all seven emirates became one.

1971

BECOMING THE RULER OF UAE

Sheikh Zayed was unanimously elected by the rulers of the emirates as the first president of the new state for five years. The Supreme Council of the Union expressed their confidence in Sheikh Zayed by re-electing him several times.

“Our experiment in federation... arose from a desire to increase the ties that bind us, as well as from the conviction of all that we were part of one family, and that we must gather together under one leadership,” a lengthy profile carried by WAM, the official Emirates news agency, quoted Sheikh Zayed as saying after becoming president".

1990

SHEIKH ZAYED IS ON NEWSWEEK'S LIST OF THE WORLD'S INFLUENTIAL LEADERS

Sheikh Zayed is on New York-based Newsweek's list of the world's influential leaders who radically transformed their countries in a relatively short span in the post-World War II era.

2004

THE PASSING OF UAE’S FIRST PRESIDENT, SHEIKH ZAYED BIN SULTAN AL NAHYAN

Sheikh Zayed passed away on Tuesday November 2, 2004 at the age of 86. The UAE began 40 days of mourning on November 3, 2004 and flags were at half-mast for 40 days.

2004

THE PASSAGE OF PRESIDENCY

Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan took over as UAE President and continued what his father has started.