Leaders, religious officials, poets and the public gathered at Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque on Thursday night to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the passing of the Founding Father of the U.A.E..
The 19th day of Ramadan has been designated Zayed Humanitarian Day, in which the people of the U.A.E. are called on for humanitarian initiatives.
Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak, Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development, were among the dignitaries who sat listening to the Quran recitation that started the event.
"Yes, Zayed might have died but his good work is still in us,” said the preacher Waseem Youssef in his speech, in which he noted Sheikh Zayed's charity, developments and religious accomplishments.
"We have gathered today to commemorate the death of Sheikh Zayed but he only died in body, and he is still alive between us through his work and accomplishments.”
Mr Youssef said that when he was at haj, people from various countries would call themselves by their nationalities, but Emiratis would say: "We are the sons of Zayed.”
"An entire people link themselves to a man, acknowledge that he has educated, raised and transferred them to the highest of communities,” he said.
Women of all ages and nationalities were at the event. Umm Mohammed, 43, a housewife from Yemen, was there with her daughter Yusra Saleh, 21, a dentistry graduate.
"I've been watching documentaries about Sheikh Zayed all day on TV,” the mother said.
Umm Mohammed said she had been most impressed by the quote from Sheikh Zayed to the late Egyptian president Anwar Sadat, where he said that, "the human is more valuable than oil”.
She said his keenness on promoting the well-being of all human life was very special.
"No one would say such a thing,” she said of his comment about the value of people and oil.
Yusra said she was eager to hear about Sheikh Zayed's accomplishments especially since the whole world had been influenced by him as a leader.
"Today we celebrate the accomplishments of a rare leader,” said Dr Hamdan Al Mazrouei, chairman of the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments (Awqaf).
"It is our duty – us, the sons of Zayed – to follow his footsteps and preserve the union of our home and integration of our society, by doing what we can to protect this land and its resources and capabilities.”
Abdulrahman Al Shamsi, a preacher at Awqaf, said Sheikh Zayed built the U.A.E. for his people. "We often heard him say: ‘I ask Allah to enable us to move forward towards what we started, to accomplish all the needs of the homeland and to provide the needs of nationals.”
Not only did he focus on building the land, but he also aimed for improving the human life. "He used to sit on the sand and line with his cane the map of leadership for generations. So he would say: ‘Here a school will be built ... and here a university ... and there a hospital'.”
Hasna Sheesheya, 25, a housewife from Morocco, held her two-year-old daughter Rahaf on her lap while watching the event.
"I read in the newspaper that today is Sheikh Zayed's humanitarian day, so I decided to pray taraweeh here and listen to what they will say.”
She said this was the first time this Ramadan that she had prayed outside the house, but she was excited about the event. "My husband dropped me from our house in Shahama.”
Speeches by preachers, Dr Al Mazrouei and poetry recitations followed.
Source: The National