On 2 December 1971, history witnessed the birth of a modern state. The new-born country joined the Arab League on December 6th, 1971, becoming its eighteenth state. On the 9th of December 1972, only a week after its establishment, the UAE became the 132nd member of the United Nations. The Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah joined the union on 10 February 1972. Immediately upon the declaration of the union, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al Nahyan offered to dedicate all the Government of Abu Dhabi's material sources and administrative and technical expertise to serve the federal state. He said: "The union is my wish and it is the ultimate goal I seek for the benefit of the UAE's people."
The late Sheikh Zayed said that the goal of the Union was to bring happiness to the UAE's citizens and to build a modern state. "From the beginning we realized that the union is the right means to our strength and progress. It is the way to make our people happy, and provide a decent life for them and for future generations, with Allah's will. We also realized that we cannot achieve this goal except under a well rooted federal state that realizes the lessons of our history, lives the present, and moves towards a future, taking Islam as the framework that guides its internal and external policy.
From the moment the federal state was established, the wheels of development began turning. Since the first day he assumed power, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan dedicated the wealth of the country to improve people's standards of living and create a more progressive and prosperous country. He said: "We have dedicated everything we own in terms of wealth and petroleum to improving the living standards of every person in the United Arab Emirates, driven by our belief that these people are the rightful owner of this wealth, and that they should make up what he missed in order to catch up with the march of civilization and progress."
The late Sheikh Zayed added, "If Allah the Almighty had bestowed us with wealth, our first commitment is to seek Allah's satisfaction and in order to express our gratitude to Him we need to utilize this wealth by making this country better and by bringing goodness to its people."
A few years after its establishment, the UAE became a modern and prosperous country where its citizens enjoy luxury and prosperity, as confirmed by the statement of His Highness that the hopes of the people "came true thanks to the establishment of the United Arab Emirates. Progress and prosperity have become a reality of our lives."
He added, "We could not have dreamt of achieving this level of development. It was truly beyond our imagination. The speed of our growth is exceptional."
The way Sheikh Zayed guided the formation of the union has had a lasting effect on the UAE, and his memory will forever be rooted in the consciousness of the nation as a result.
On several occasions, His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan expressed his satisfaction with the achievements of the union saying: "We, thanks to Allah, feel relieved and happy as the union continues its march on the right path. The way the United Arab Emirates is moving steadfastly from one phase to another has become a source of pride for all of us."
"Everything that I and my brothers the rulers of the Emirates spent long nights caring about and being patient with, was achieved. With Allah's help and grace, we have reached a stage where the majority of our goals for the good of the UAE people have been fulfilled: goals that seemed once far and distant, and beyond our reach," His Highness said.
Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan believed that holding counsel (Shura) should be a core component of governance. He said, "Ruling with counsel is a command from Allah and he who does not abide by Allah's commands shall be the loser."
His approach comes from his belief in, and reliance on Allah, the Almighty in every step. His highness said, "My philosophy in life is that I believe that all things are in the hands of Allah the Almighty and that man should act as if inspired by his belief in Allah, with dedication and diligence. If I succeed in my quest, I thank Allah for his grace and if I was mistaken in my diligence, I return to the right path. Everything runs according to the will of Allah the Almighty; He runs and manages our lives. The worshiper should seek the approval of Allah, to act and rely on Allah. Allah guides individuals to success only when their belief in God is strong. Allah grants them peace of mind, and that is the ultimate happiness."
The counsel approach that Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan adopted was reflected in his strong desire to hold open and direct meetings with citizens at their workplaces, and in their places of residence, whether these were located in the cities or in the deserts. While traveling throughout the country, he facilitated a deep and honest closeness between the leadership and the people. His highness used to emphasize the importance of this approach, which is based on an open door policy between the ruler and his people, by saying: "Our door is open and shall always be like that."
"The ruler should meet the members of his people continuously and there should be no barriers between him and them under any circumstances." His Highness said.
Sheikh Zayed continued: "The ruler, any ruler, is only there to serve his people and secure for them prosperity and progress. To achieve this, he should live among his people to feel their wishes and know their problems and this cannot be achieved if he isolates himself from them."
Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al Nahyan was keen to offer his people a wide range of opportunities to participate in public life. He said, "When the ruler is self-assured and confident, he offers opportunities to his people. He appoints qualified and well-experienced officials to assist him in realizing what is best for the country."
"Our goal in life is to uphold the value of justice, be morally right, and support the weak against the dominant. We are not cautious about ordinary people's participation in the responsibility of ruling as long as these are our goals. We think that our duty is to share responsibilities with the citizens, and we did this just as Islam calls for true democracy and justice," he added.
Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan led by example. He traveled throughout the country to follow up on the progress of work and to engage with his people's wishes and concerns, away from government offices and departments and official reports. He said, "I want officials to see me with their eyes at work, at any time, without preparation, so that every official shall follow this path and deliver on our mission".