Abu Dhabi: The UAE’s governing system imbibes the spirit of Bedouin life — sitting in a circle and listening to everyone and taking collective decisions to solve everyone’s problem, Dr Mubarak Sa’ad Al Ahbabi, Chairman of the Department of the President’s Affairs, told Gulf News.

“Everyone’s aspirations and concerns are addressed properly in this system. This represents the true representation of democracy (‘Shura’ in Arabic), which is derived from the teachings of Islam and the Arab heritage,” said Dr Al Ahbabi.

Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founding father of the UAE, was determined that all citizens must have all basic facilities, which is religiously followed by the present rulers, said Dr Al Ahbabi. “When someone complained of an Emirati living in a rented house in a remote area, Shaikh Zayed got angry and said it was a failure of the local municipality for not bringing it to the ruler’s attention. He immediately ordered building a house for that family. He said all citizens had an equal right to housing and no one should ever live in a rented house.”

In the early years, when the health-care system in the UAE was not so advanced, Shaikh Zayed, said Dr Al Ahbabi, always helped citizens get medical treatment abroad. After a few weeks, he would enquire about the well-being of the patients. “The Khalifa Committee in Abu Dhabi constituted by Shaikh Zayed was a mechanism to provide additional income for citizens. The committee constructed residential and commercial buildings for citizens by providing low-interest loans. About 30 per cent of rental income from the buildings was given to owners and the remaining 70 per cent went for paying back the loan,” explained Dr Al Ahbabi.

Humbleness was part of Shaikh Zayed’s character.

When Shaikh Zayed used to go hunting in the desert, he would call everyone in the team to share the food with him, Dr Al Ahbabi said.

“The realisation that all these progressive ideas originated from the values and traditions of our founding fathers is the first step towards asserting our national identity,” he said. “They formulated these ideas from their sacrifices, hardship and hard work. Parents are the custodians of these values and perceptions and their major responsibility is to pass them on to the young generation.”