Saeed Bin Drai says that a prominent aspect of Shaikh Zayed’s personality was his ability to connect with people. Image Credit: Ahmed Kutty/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: By harnessing the potential of his people, Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan transformed the UAE into one of the most vibrant countries in the world, said Saeed Bin Drai, a 50-year-old Emirati who had the good fortune of having been in close proximity to Shaikh Zayed.

Speaking to Gulf News, Bin Drai, a resident of Abu Dhabi, said: “I attended his majlis several times. A prominent aspect of his personality was his ability to connect with people and listen to their ideas, opinions and grievances and advise them on how to deal with them.”

He added: “We are indebted to Shaikh Zayed for today’s luxury and lifestyle, peace, prosperity and security for all residents in the UAE. We all need to strive to live up to his legacy of tolerance and peaceful living.”

Narrating an incident that highlights Shaikh Zayed’s incomparable sense of fair play, Bin Drai said: “One day, Shaikh Zayed was riding his motorbike, which did not have a licence plate in Abu Dhabi City. He was stopped by a young Abu Dhabi Police officer who did not recognise him. The officer asked Shaikh Zayed to come to the police station. There, Shaikh Zayed respectfully answered all the officer’s queries, accepted his fault and commended the officer for doing his duty well. It was only later that the officer learnt about who he had been questioning.”

Speaking of Shaikh Zayed’s humanitarianism, Bin Drai said: “[His] humanitarian works were not restricted to the Arab region; he helped different communities in Asia, Africa and European countries. Any place where people needed water wells, he built it for them.”

National Day celebrations, Bin Drai said, connect us all to “Baba Zayed”.

“Today, we are reaping the fruits of what Shaikh Zayed sowed for us,” he added.