Abu Dhabi: The Founder’s Memorial, a permanent national tribute commemorating Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, was inaugurated in an official ceremony at the Abu Dhabi Corniche on Monday under the directives of President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
Present at the ceremony were their Highnesses Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai; Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces; Shaikh Hamad Bin Mohammad Al Sharqi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Fujairah; Shaikh Saud Bin Rashid Al Mualla, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Umm Al Qaiwain, and Shaikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah.
Watch: The Founder's Memorial was inaugurated in Abu Dhabi. (Video courtesy: Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed on instagram)
The Founder’s Memorial inauguration through the unveiling of ‘The Constellation’, the monumental artwork that forms its centrepiece, coincides with the Year of Zayed initiative that marks Shaikh Zayed’s 100th birth anniversary.
Located at the heart of The Founder’s Memorial, the monumental artwork by public artist Ralph Helmick depicts a dynamic three-dimensional portrait of Shaikh Zayed, and can be experienced differently from multiple viewing points around the memorial and from other vantage points, offering a series of infinitely evolving personal encounters with his image.
The Constellation is made up of more than 1,300 geometric shapes suspended on more than 1,000 cables. At night, these shapes shine like stars, evoking the timelessness of Shaikh Zayed’s vision as a guiding light for the UAE’s people.
Also attending the 30-minute ceremony were Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai; Shaikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Minister of Finance; Shaikh Abdullah Bin Salem Bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Deputy Ruler of Sharjah; Sheikh Ammar Bin Humaid Al Nuaimi, Crown Prince of Ajman; Shaikh Mohammad Bin Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Crown Prince of Ras Al Khaimah; Shaikh Tahnoun Bin Mohammad Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Ruler`s Representative in Al Ain Region; Shaikh Hazza Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Chairman of Abu Dhabi Executive Council; Lt General Shaikh Saif Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior; Shaikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs; Shaikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Tolerance; Shaikh Khalid Bin Ahmad Bin Mohammad Al Khalifa, Bahrain’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, other shaikhs and senior officials.
The ceremony included a performance featuring a 40-strong choir performing Allah Ya Dar Zayed, as well as arrangements of other traditional songs and music, and a compilation of Shaikh Zayed’s performances of the traditional Ayala dance.
Speaking on the occasion, Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid said: “Zayed’s legacy will remain a never-ending source of wisdom from which future generations draw inspiration as well as lessons of patriotism and dedication. The Founder’s Memorial will continue to testify to the achievements of the founding leader and the sacrifices he made. His legacy is filled with stories of loyalty to the homeland, and it places a responsibility on us and on future generations to safeguard the gains, and build on the success stories so that our homeland remains a symbol of dignity and development.
“Today, my brother Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed, our brothers the UAE Rulers, and I inaugurated the Founder’s Memorial,” Shaikh Mohammad continued. “It is an important message that links future generations to the memory of the leader who laid the foundations of the nation. It is a message that the youth must absorb and work to achieve in various sectors to continue the process initiated by Zayed and the UAE’s Founders and to build the future of a country that wants its citizens always to excel.”
The Vice-President said it was fitting to have a memorial for the Founding Father, saying that Shaikh Zayed had a special place not only in the hearts of Emiratis, but all those who had benefited from his generosity. “When we mention giving, we have to mention Zayed. His name will forever be associated with generosity and humane leadership in the annals of history. Zayed sought to spread good across the world and make the Emirates a beacon of hope and optimism, and overcome all obstacles. Today, the sons of Zayed follow the same approach to make the UAE the wellspring of good for people and a source of happiness with tolerance, harmony and peace,” he said.
Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan said Shaikh Zayed’s vision would continue to guide the UAE and the wider region. “The Founding Father will continue to inspire current and future generations with his humanity, leadership and wisdom,” he said, adding that the Founder’s Memorial would help people understand how the happiness of his countrymen was Shaikh Zayed’s only goal. “He instilled the values of hard work, giving and dedication in his people, inspiring them to take the country to new heights under the leadership of President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan,” Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed said.
“We proudly unveil the Founder’s Memorial to celebrate Shaikh Zayed’s legacy and achievements,” he continued, adding that the Founding Father was unmatched in his humanity, wisdom and leadership. “He founded a state, built a nation and personally shaped a civilisation.”
The Abu Dhabi Crown Prince said that those who knew Sheikh Zayed recognised his greatness, nobility and uniqueness. “His approach was based on ethics, his message was peace, love and tolerance, and his goal was building good citizens. We will continue to cherish this great leader’s legacy and follow his principles in our lives.”
“The nation Sheikh Zayed built would continue to be counted among the greatest and most respected worldwide thanks to the efforts of its sons and daughters. Our connection with Zayed,” Shaikh Mohammad said, “was that of a father to his son, a leader to his people and a man to his homeland. It is a close connection, an extension of the love of the founder of our Union, which has grown over the years. We pride ourselves on this love and hand it down to future generation. Our youth today demonstrate their loyalty to Shaikh Zayed by eagerly acquiring more knowledge, displaying a commitment to ethics and humanity, and devoting their efforts to nation-building and preserving the gains of the past.”
The Rulers of the Emirates also expressed great pride in Shaikh Zayed’s national, humanitarian and civilisational legacy.
Shaikh Mansour, who is also chairman of the Higher National Committee for the Year of Zayed, said: “Shaikh Zayed’s legacy is clear to the people of the UAE and the world through his timeless cultural and humanitarian achievements. His character is a model for us all in terms of behaviour, work, leadership and thought. The Founder’s Memorial serves as a beacon that will guide future generations, shedding light on the founding father of the UAE, his outstanding ideas that preceded his time, and the dreams he realised through his patience and hard work.”
Set against the backdrop of the landscape of The Founder’s Memorial beyond, a cinematic event traced Shaikh Zayed’s life and legacy.
As if told by Shaikh Zayed himself, the story unfolded through his voice, through his actions — depicted in rarely-seen footage and imagery — and through people whose lives he touched, including Shaikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak, Shaikh Zayed Bin Hamad Bin Hamdan Al Nahyan, Ali Bin Salem Al Kaabi, Major-General Hamad Bin Suhail Al Khaili, Mubarak Bin Qaran Al Mansouri, and Zaki Nusseibeh, Minister of State.
When The Founder’s Memorial opens to the public in April, it will offer a dynamic, informative and inspirational visitor experience through art, landscaping, stories and multimedia experiences.
The site will open up 3.3 hectares of pristine public space to the UAE community for walking and quiet reflection, featuring landscaped areas planted with trees and shrubs indigenous to the UAE and the Arabian Peninsula, and an elevated walkway that will offer captivating views of The Constellation, The Corniche and the Abu Dhabi skyline.
The Ministry of Presidential Affairs is the official authority that owns and supervises the Founder’s Memorial.