Wednesday, November 03, 2004
Sh. Zayed Highway in 1990 and in 2004
There are two types of rulers, one who the history books will remember well and another who will be remembered not so well or as they say in Arabic, ‘ila mazbalat altareekh’ or condemned to the garabage can of history. Zayed was the torch that shone amidst the ‘sycophony’ of Arab leaders, as the BBC describes him (I like that word - SYCOPHONY). After I sent my condolences to all my Emarati friends (by text message naturally), I sat contemplating Zayed’s legacy.
Zayed epitomized just and fair governance and made sure that the economic development of his country was strategically directed, managed and distributed to every corner and to every citizen. It was in this way he entered every Emarati household and every Emarati heart. They built a nation and they built it together. If our leaders can learn just one thing from Zayed, it should be the importance of TRUST and SINCERITY between a ruler and his citizens. The best obituary I have come across is in the Guardian.
At this point of reflection, another question came into my head. What if we were part of the UAE? This may seem ludicrous now, but back in 60s, this was what the late Sh. Isa bin Salman had to decide when we were in the Federation of Arab Emirates – shall we be part of this new country or should we be independent?
“In 1968, the British announced that they would completely withdraw from the Gulf region by the year 1971. This sent the Trucial rulers into a frenzied series of negotiations with each other and with the other British protectorates; Qatar and Bahrain. The British tried to join these areas into a single autonomous country but the respective rulers could not agree on boundaries or political representation in the new grouping. Bahrain and Qatar were particularly aggrieved and left to become independent nations. The Trucial sheikhdoms were prepared to enter a federation with Abu Dhabi and Dubai (in that order) as having the heaviest political weighting, representation and most importantly of all for the smaller sheikhdoms, the heaviest financial obligations. With this formula the United Arab Emirates was formed in December 1971.
At the time many outsiders dismissed the UAE as a loosely assembled, artificial and largely British creation. While there was some truth to this, it was also true that the emirs of the smaller and poorer sheikhdoms knew their territories had no hope of surviving as independent states. Despite the doomsayers, the UAE became a major international business centre and one of the most stable and untroubled countries in the Arab world.” Lonely Planet.
I enquired here and there about the real reason why Bahrain decided to stay out, and the expected answer I got was the rift between the Alkhalifa and Althani, each one wasn’t happy with the other one being in the federation. However, the late rular of Bahrain also demanded that Bahrain gets two votes on the Supreme Council rather than one due to its population size. Typical Arabs as they are, they all agreed to disagree and Bahrain and UAE went they’re own separate ways. We can only fantasize about where Bahrain could have been today under the leadership of Sh. Zayed had history taken an alternative course.
May God have mercy on his soul.