It’s impossible to celebrate the Emirates’ National Day without mentioning its founder and first president, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.
On December 2, 1971, the rulers of six emirates (Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Abu Dhabi, Fujeira, and Umm al-Quwain) out of seven agreed to unite the emirates following the end of the British mandate.
The last of the emirates, Ras al-Khaimah, eventually joined the federation, which formed the United Arab Emirates as we know it today.
Here are some things you need to know about the driving force behind the emirates’ unity, Sheikh Zayed, who served as UAE’s president between 1971 and 2004.
1. The Muslim Leader
Sheikh Zayed studied Islam, the Quran, Hadith and the basics of Arabic at the hands of the Islamic religious authorities, starting at the age of 5.