UAE - The UAE's beloved President, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, turns 62 today, March 11.
Serving the people of the Emirates for decades now, the public — both citizens and expats — has known him as a compassionate, generous, hard-working leader.
Beyond his many landmark accomplishments, he is admired for the way he connected with everyone around him, be they kings and presidents, or workers and frontliners.
He is the head of state but, like his father — the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan — he remains grounded, ready to listen at all times.
As the nation pays tribute to the people's president today, get to know him better through this special list. Here are eight things you probably didn't know about Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed:
1. His full name is...
Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed bin Sultan bin Zayed bin Khalifa bin Shakhbout bin Theyab bin Issa bin Nahyan bin Falah bin Yas
Considering that 'bin' is used to say 'son of', this full name traces the UAE President's lineage.
2. He's the third son of Sheikh Zayed
He is the third son of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, and grew up under the watchful eye of his father and his mother, Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak.
In the first 10 years of his life, some of the most important events in UAE history unfolded: Abu Dhabi began the exportation of oil in 1962; his father became Ruler of Abu Dhabi in 1966; the UAE was formed in 1971; and his father was appointed the first president of the country in that same year.
3. His learning started in a majlis
Even before he started formal education, Sheikh Mohamed learnt a wealth of knowledge as he spent much of his time at Sheikh Zayed's majlis and with tribal elders.
He officially attended schools in Al Ain and Abu Dhabi until the age of 18. He also went to the Royal Academy in Rabat.
4. He can fly a helicopter — confidently
As thousands of people looked up to watch the UAE's grand fireworks and ring in 2023 Sheikh Mohamed was spotted celebrating, too — up in the sky. He piloted a chopper to get what could be the best view of the Abu Dhabi spectacle. And it wasn't the first time he flew one.
Over the years, videos showing him piloting helicopters over the country went viral, one one in 2022 and some in 2017.
The fact is, he is a trained pilot, graduating from an illustrious military academy in 1979. Besides helicopter flying, he also learnt tactical flying and paratroops.
5. He has 2 adopted daughters
He married Sheikha Salama bint Hamdan bin Mohamed Al Nahyan in 1981, and they were blessed with four sons and five daughters — and two adopted daughters, Amina and Salha.
It was His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, who revealed how hard Sheikh Mohamed works.
He mentioned in a tribute that the leader clocks 18 work hours a day and his annual leaves do not exceed a week.
His duty hours may even be more than that because, in December 2022, he was seen meeting a top defence official, a president, a king — and even travelled to Qatar and flew back — all in 24 hours.
6. He loves falcons and wildlife
Sheikh Mohamed is known for his passion for protecting wild falcons and bustards, as well as the Arabia Oryx.
He has been a fan of falconry since he was a child, learning the heritage sport from his father.
He's deeply interested in poetry, especially that of the Nabati style, which is native to the region. He regularly lends support to poetry competitions and other events, allowing them to be held under his patronage and attending in person as many of them as he can.
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