ECSSR Lecture Series No. (714) Dr. Sultan Al-Nuaimi: “The UAE’s Identity Embodies the Character and Values of Sheikh Zayed”

The Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research (ECSSR) held a lecture on Monday, November 25, 2019, titled, ‘Zayed: The Identity of People and Nation, a Theoretical Foundation of a Deep-rooted Legacy’. The lecture was delivered by Dr. Sultan Mohammed Al-Nuaimi, an academic and researcher from the UAE, in Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Hall at the ECSSR complex in Abu Dhabi. Among the audience were academics, media professionals and attendees with a keen interest in the topic.

Dr. Al-Nuaimi expressed his sincere thanks to H.E. Prof. Jamal Sanad Al-Suwaidi, Director General of the ECSSR, for inviting him to deliver the lecture, as part of the UAE’s 48th National Day celebrations. It also comes as part of the ECSSR’s efforts to organize events that examine the life and history of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan (may God rest his soul in peace), in order to highlight his role in enriching the national, cultural and social landscape locally, regionally and internationally.

Dr. Al-Nuaimi began his lecture by giving an overview of some of history’s heroes and inspirational leaders who have ignited the torch of pride, dignity and progress to unite their people. These figures continue to influence our lives, due to the achievements, values and principles they left behind. Dr. Al-Nuaimi said that it is essential, in light of the complex challenges threatening nation states, to look for all areas of common ground in order to promote national unity. The lecturer introduced the concept of identity as a framework to achieve and maintain societal cohesion, adding that identity is important for the individual as it shapes our fate, but is also important for society because the behavior of its members stems from the values and principles of this shared identity. Identity is also important for the state, as states are founded upon pre-existing or newly created identities. Dr. Al-Nuaimi then systematically attempted to reach an understanding, based on the UAE’s experience, of how national identity is shaped, and discussed the concept of “subconscious identity”, which is within the hearts and minds of individuals and groups, defining their interactions with others.

The lecturer described Sheikh Zayed’s vital role in shaping the UAE’s identity, explaining that he was not just a leader and founder, but that the UAE identity was the embodiment of Sheikh Zayed’s character, and the values, principles and noble behavior that he espoused. Dr. Al-Nuaimi also pointed out that the phrase “Sons of Zayed” is the way in which UAE citizens are now recognized, wherever they go.

Dr. Al-Nuaimi argued that identity combines the essence of moral values and noble principles, which are clearly embodied in the character of Sheikh Zayed, as well as social, political, economic and cultural beliefs. The lecturer divided these values into personal values on the one hand, and principles and perspectives on the other. The personal characteristics of the late Sheikh Zayed were clearly represented by reverence for his parents; reinforcing family unity; courage; determination; justice; mercy; a firm belief in Allah; following the traditions of the Prophet (PBUH); and, an appreciation of our heritage, history and patriotism.

The lecturer then raised another important aspect that was unique to Sheikh Zayed, whose character eventually merged with the national identity to become one. This aspect was his charismatic leadership, which had a great impact on his interactions with people who were loyal to him out of admiration and influence, not coercion. Dr. Al-Nuaimi pointed out that Sheikh Zayed differed from other charismatic leaders, in that they led already established nations, while Sheikh Zayed was a leader of a country that he created.