Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan (Arabic: زَايِـد بِـن سُـلْـطَـان آل نَـهْـيَـان) was the principal driving force behind the formation of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the Emir (Arabic: أَمِـيـر, translit. Amîr, Ruler) of Abu Dhabi, and the first Ra’îs (Arabic: رَئِـيـس, President) of the Emirates, a post which he held for the period of almost 33 years (1971 until his death in 2004).
Zayed was the youngest of four sons of Sheikh Sultan bin Zayed bin Khalifa Al Nahyan. His birth date is also reported to be in 1916. His father was the ruler of Abu Dhabi from 1922 until his assassination in 1926.
Between 8-11 January 1968, the UK's Foreign Office Minister Goronwy Roberts visited the Trucial States and announced to its shocked rulers that the United Kingdom would abrogate its treaties with them and intended to withdraw from the area. In a seminal meeting on 18 February 1968 at a desert highland on the border between Dubai and Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Zayed and Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum of Dubai shook hands on the principle of founding a Federation and attempting to invite other trucial rulers to join in order that a viable nation be formed in the wake of the British withdrawal.
In 1971, after occasionally difficult negotiations with the other six rulers of the Trucial States, the United Arab Emirates was formed. Zayed was appointed to the presidency of the UAE in 1971 and was reappointed on four more occasions: 1976, 1981, 1986, and 1991.
On 2 November 2004, Zayed died at the age of 86. He was buried in the courtyard of the new Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi. His eldest son, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, took an increasing role in government beginning in the 1980s. Directly after his father's death, he became the Ruler of Abu Dhabi, and was ratified as the President of the United Arab Emirates by his fellow rulers in the Supreme Council.
|زَايِـد بِـن سُـلْـطَـان آل نَـهْـيَـان (Emir Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan)
|6 August 1966
|2 November 2004
|زَايِـد بِـن سُـلْـطَـان آل نَـهْـيَـان (President Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan), Emir of Abu Dhabi
|United Arab Emirates
|2 December 1971
|2 November 2004