One of the persons I admire a lot is Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. He is the current President of the United Arab Emirates. The UAE does not follow a democratic political system, but is a monarchy. As a result Mr. Al Nahyan inherited the Presidency from his father on 3rd November 2004. This might appear to be an easy route to power. But in truth Mr. Al Nahyan has had an illustrious career in public affairs prior to his ascension. For much of his political career prior to becoming the President he served as the Prime Minister of Abu Dhabi. He had also served varyingly as the Minister of Finance and Minister of Defence. This quality of having first qualifying himself before taking up a big responsibility is something I admire in him.
Sheikh Al Nahyan was born with a silver spoon – his family is said to possess a collective wealth of $150 billion. This is a whopping figure by any standard of measurement. It can easily make the fortuitous individual feel vain and pompous. But what I find in Mr. Al Nahyan is a sense of being grounded. He comes across as a man who is unassuming and polite. Clearly such humility in the light of dizzying wealth is an attractive trait.
While Mr. Al Nahyan’s achievement in the realm of politics is well known, his interest in sports is not much publicized. One of the key traits of great leaders is their well-rounded personalities. By actively pursuing adventure sports such as horse and camel racing Mr. Al Nahyan has developed his sportive side.
Another facet to Mr. Al Nahyan that I found admirable is his business acumen. Although born into wealth and privilege he does not take his status for granted. Even if he were born into a modest family, he would have proven himself to be a successful businessman. This is illustrated by his shrewd real-estate investments in Seychelles, where he had spent several million dollars acquiring land for his dream palace.
And, finally, en essential quality of great leadership is commitment to the welfare of society. Sheikh Al Nahyan had always shown sensitivity to the plight of the underprivileged. Toward alleviating their distress he had undertaken several philanthropic projects in the past. The construction of the John Hopkins Hospital is one example. His charitable funding of cardiovascular and AIDS research projects are further proof of his benevolence. The founding of the trust called Khalifa Award for Education goes to show his value for knowledge. Likewise, the Sheikh Khalifa City is a grand housing program undertaken in the war-struck Gaza Strip in Palestine.
Hence, in sum, Mr. Al Nahyan makes a great leader, whose leadership traits are worthy of study and emulation.
* “I Inherited My Title but I Am Glad I Earned My Doctorate; Family Ties Led Sheikh to Wales but University’s Warmth Was Decider.” Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales) 20 Feb. 2009. Print.
* Lancaster, Pat. “Celebrating an Illustrious Past and an Enviable Future.” Middle East January-February 2012: 57+. Print.”UAE Anniversary: 34 Years of Progress.” Manila Bulletin 2 Dec. 2005. Print.