Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, often referred to simply as Sheikh Zayed is a figure that is very present in the UAE.

In commemoration of the holy month of Ramadan this is one of a series of publications addressing important data about the UAE and its culture.

Sheikh Zayed was the founding father and first president of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). He was born on May 6, 1918, in Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Zayed played a pivotal role in the unification of the seven emirates (Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Ajman, Um Al Quwaim, Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah) that now constitute the UAE. He became the ruler of Abu Dhabi in 1966 and was instrumental in leading negotiations with other emirates to form the UAE on December 2, 1971.

During his presidency, which lasted until his death on November 2, 2004, SZ focused on the development and modernization of the UAE, particularly in the areas of infrastructure, education, healthcare, and social welfare. He was widely respected both domestically and internationally for his visionary leadership, generosity, and commitment to promoting peace and stability in the region.

Sheikh Zayed’s legacy continues to have a profound impact on the UAE, and he is often remembered as a symbol of unity, progress, and prosperity for the nation. His image is prominently featured on the currency and various landmarks across the UAE, and his vision continues to guide the country’s development.

Meaning of Sheikh

For those not familiar with the term, in the Arabian Gulf region, the title of sheikh tends to be used to refer to political leaders or rulers of emirates or other political entities. For example, in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), each emirate is ruled by a sheikh, who serves as the head of state.

Presence of Sheikh Zayed in the UAE

Whether you have simply visited the UAE for a short trip or live in the UAE, the figure of Sheikh Zayed cannot be missed.

Sheikh Zayed’s name is associated with numerous infrastructure projects, landmarks, and institutions across the United Arab Emirates. Some of the prominent ones include:

  1. Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque: Located in Abu Dhabi, the capital city of the UAE, the Grand Mosque is one of the largest mosques in the world. It was named after Sheikh Zayed to honor his vision and commitment to tolerance, cultural diversity, and architectural excellence.
  2. Sheikh Zayed Bridge: This iconic bridge spans the Maqta Channel in Abu Dhabi, connecting the mainland to the island of Abu Dhabi. It is a striking architectural marvel known for its unique design, featuring wave-like arches that symbolize the undulating sand dunes of the desert.
  3. Sheikh Zayed Road: This is one of the major highways in the UAE, stretching across the length of Dubai and connecting various key areas within the city. It is one of the busiest roads in the country and serves as a vital artery for transportation and commerce.
  4. Sheikh Zayed Tower: Located in Dubai, the SZ’s Tower is part of the Dubai World Trade Centre complex. It is a prominent landmark in the city’s skyline and serves as a symbol of Dubai’s growth and development.
  5. Sheikh Zayed Desert Learning Centre: Situated in Al Ain, the Sheikh Zayed Desert Learning Centre is an educational facility dedicated to promoting environmental conservation and sustainable development in desert ecosystems. It offers interactive exhibits, educational programs, and initiatives aimed at raising awareness about the importance of preserving the desert environment.

These are just a few examples of the infrastructure and landmarks that bear his name.

His legacy is deeply ingrained in the fabric of the UAE, and his contributions to the country’s development are honored through various projects and institutions named in his memory.


We hope this publication will help you understand the importance of this figure  and remain available for any legal and commercial question regarding the UAE.

For more information published in English you can visit all our publications at this link as well as the videos in English of our Partner Maria Rubert.

*The information on this page is not intended to be legal advice. This article is intended to provide an initial introduction to UAE’s interesting data.