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DUBAI: In the mid-1990s, when the Balkan War broke out and abhorrent fanaticism reared its head, the most gruesome savagery manifested as if we were back to pre-historic ages where no law or human or social relationships existed. At that time, television channels refrained from showing the horrible scenes to preserve faith in humanity during an era in which criminals committed the most atrocious war crimes against Muslims.

Back then, the UAE TV channel in Abu Dhabi launched and implemented a fundraising campaign to support Muslim victims in Bosnia. The campaign ran from Friday morning till next day morning. I was following the news at that time which raised many questions in my mind. How can human beings be so monstrous and savage in an age of civilisation, scientific advancement and communication?

Following the Jumu’ah Prayer that Friday, a speech was delivered by the founder of the nation Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, in which he addressed the public urging them to donate to the campaign [to aid Muslim brothers in Bosnia].

Back then, Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed was still a university student and trainee at the Ministry of Information and Culture. He was assigned the task of overseeing the campaign during which he also conducted an interview with Shaikh Zayed. The meeting was impromptu with no introductions or embellished words, only the spontaneity that Shaikh Zayed enjoyed.

We were eagerly looking forward to Shaikh Zayed’s speech in which he would speak to us about giving and donating to our Muslim brothers in Bosnia. His words exceeded our expectations and moved us greatly. What he said on that day was not a typical speech filled with eloquent wording or fancy expressions and phrases, but rather a clear and honest message that could only come from a heart that cares not only for Arabs and Muslims, but humanity at large.

Shaikh Zayed’s goal has always been the wellbeing of all humans.

Our leader urged his people to help the needy and the oppressed across the globe regardless of their religion or nationality. Through his simple but powerful words, and clear, straightforward and transparent language, Shaikh Zayed reflected the real face of the human civilisation.

Such themes that concern themselves with abiding by human values have been overlooked by many people, but if we think about them for a moment, we would realise their importance as a foundation for intellect, science, governance and politics. It is the philosophy of brotherhood, equality, justice and social collaboration that many reformers and pioneers of human revolutions have always espoused. The words may be few but they nonetheless carry deep meaning and significance.

On that day, I realised and understood why we love and respect Shaikh Zayed. It is his humility through which the human values and meanings manifest and shine over our homeland, the region, Islam and humankind as a whole.

Khalfan Musabbah Al Mheiri, Former Assistant Undersecretary for Culture and Art Affairs The Cultural Foundation – Abu Dhabi