UAE - The People’s President – this is how the UAE President, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, is best described by both Emiratis and expatriates. His humility, approachable demeanour, devotion to family and country, intrinsic leadership and uplifting values have not only won people’s hearts, but also inspired them to emulate him.
A year after he was sworn in as the third president of the country, we look back at the heartwarming moments that have become viral on social media – from posing alongside his loved ones during Eid holidays, to pulling out a chair for a world leader, asking permission to be included in a group photo, hugging nuclear plant workers, sporting environmental bracelets, piloting helicopters, and giving a fatherly advice to a pioneering Emirati astronaut.
These touching moments have left indelible marks on people’s minds and captured their hearts.
1. The family man
Holding in his hand a baby who was touching his face and surrounded by his grandchildren, Sheikh Mohamed captured the spirit of the recent Eid Al Fitr celebrations with this heartwarming family photo that received widespread attention on social media.
People felt the candid moment and praised the President for his devotion to his family. Sheikh Mohamed, for his part, expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to spend the holiday with his family and loved ones. He said: "It is a blessing to be able to spend holidays with family and loved ones. On the occasion of Eid Al Fitr, I wish the people of the UAE and the world continued peace and happiness.”
2. A humble leader
Last month, the president of Brazil, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, visited the UAE. He was welcomed in a grand gesture as his convoy was accompanied by a guard of honour consisting of riders on horseback. There was an official reception ceremony, a 21-gun artillery salute, and a flypast by the UAE Air Force aerobatics team ‘Al Fursan’.
But what highlighted the UAE’s hospitality was a simple gesture of the President gently pulling the chair of da Silva of Brazil as he began to stand up. There was no fuss, Sheikh Mohamed walked towards the Brazilian leader as he finished signing a document. He bent down and pulled the chair. It came so natural for a leader who is known to share great relationship with royals and residents alike.
3. Climate action
With the UAE just months away from hosting climate change conference COP28, the President and His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, displayed their commitment to climate action by sporting green wristbands back in March.
The bracelets are not just symbolic but also reflective of the relationship between man, nature, technology and innovation, as they are made of sustainable and recyclable materials featuring COP28’s official logo.
Wearing the bracelets was also a call to everyone – leaders and the public – that we live in “one world and that everyone must work together to achieve environmental sustainability and climate protection."
4. Asking permission
‘Can I join you for a photo?’ He is the President but he is humble enough to even ask permission to join a group photo.
This heartwarming instance happened in November last year. The President greeted and interacted with the UAE delegation at COP27 in Egypt. “How are you? It’s good to see you all,” he said. Then there was a group of young people taking photos together. “Can I join you for a photo?” he asked, before standing with them for that posterity shot.
5. People’s leader
While he is busy meeting heads of various states, Sheikh Mohamed also finds time to interact with the people.
In a video that went viral in January this year, the President is seen interacting with three Emirati staff at the Barakah Nuclear Power Plant in Abu Dhabi. He huddled with them and had a casual chat. He tapped their shoulders, and at one point even pulled them close so he can hear them amidst the chopper noise in the background. He also gave one of them a kiss on the cheek. Warm and engaging leadership – that’s what he showed that day.
6. Pilot President
The UAE President is a graduate of the prestigious Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, where he trained in armour, helicopter flying, tactical flying and paratroops. It is no wonder why he loves flying a chopper himself.
In the past year, there were two instances when he was captured on social media piloting a helicopter. First was in August last year and second was on New Year’s eve and in both instances the President was dressed in the traditional kandoora.
In the first video, the President is seen intently surveying some water bodies; and in the second video he was sitting in the cockpit of a helicopter, enjoying the view of Abu Dhabi’s New Year’s Eve celebrations.
7. Fatherly advice
Few days before UAE astronaut Sultan AlNeyadi went to the International Space Station (ISS) to become the first Arab astronaut to go on a long-duration space mission, he had a candid phone conversation with the President.
“We are delighted with you, and we invest in the likes of you,” said Sheikh Mohamed, followed by a bit of fatherly advice: “The important thing is to maintain your daily workout so that your muscles remain strong when you return, God willing.”
“May God bless you and bring you back safely. Please give my regards to your family. We will see you soon, God willing, and we will be overjoyed to see you,” added the UAE President, who earned praises not only from AlNeyadi but from the entire scientific community for his kindness and generosity.
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