CNN Traveller Magazine
Highbury Lifestyle

Jan/Feb 2005
Zayed's Legacy (pages 85 - 88)

With the death of the United Arab Emirates' President, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, an era has ended, but his legacy of promoting women's rights continues. Rebecca Ponton reports from Abu Dhabi.

A country mourns the loss of its beloved leader and "father." When he died on November 2, 2004, at the age of 86, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan had been the leader of the United Arab Emirates - a federation composed of seven emirates located on the Arabian Gulf - since its formation in 1971, and its only president. Upon hearing of his death, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan praised him as a voice of moderation and someone who promoted understanding between cultures. And no one was more vocal about the rights of women.

Zayed's words will not be forgotten; in fact, they're written in stone. As you walk through the gates of the Women's General Union (WGU) in Abu Dhabi, you are greeted by this quote, carved into the grey tile plaque mounted above a fountain:

I have paid close attention to the development of our women and I will give them any support they need. --Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

He was a man of his word . . .

Copyright 2005 Rebecca Ponton. No part of this article may be reproduced without the express written consent of the author.

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