Sheikh Zayed's pioneering efforts to build a continental connection between the UAE and Europe is put on display at a brand new exhibition.
Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Minister of Foreign Affairs, launched the exhibit entitled Sheikh Zayed and Europe: A Journey, at the Founder's Memorial in Abu Dhabi.
The collection features rare photos, short films, personal mementos and quotes from the founding father's trips to Europe, dating back to the early 1950s.
The inauguration, organised by the European Delegation to the UAE and the Austrian and Bulgarian Presidencies of the Council of the EU, was attended by more than 150 dignitaries, including 25 ambassadors to the UAE from EU states, Dr Amal Al Qubaisi, president of the Federal National Council and Minister of State, Zaki Nusseibeh.
Sheikh Abdullah said the exhibition, which will be open until December 31, pays homage to Sheikh Zayed's influential role in establishing a lasting friendship between the UAE and European nations.
"Sheikh Zayed was inspired by what he saw in Europe, and wanted the same for his people," said Sheikh Abdullah.
"And with the new revenues generated by oil sales, he was able to embark upon major construction and development projects at home, to ensure that the people benefitted from their wealth, and to work for unity and federation in the region."
In his welcoming address, EU Ambassador to the UAE, Patrizio Fondi said he was delighted to put a spotlight on an "historic' relationship between Sheikh Zayed and Europe.
"In celebration of the Year of Zayed, we are very happy to be organising this exceptional exhibition under the patronage of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to allow the residents of the UAE to revisit Sheikh Zayed's historic relationship with Europe and to know more about the UAE's strong ties to the European Union," he said.
"The EU and the UAE are both united in diversity and the exhibition has been specially designed to take visitors on a sentimental journey that includes rare photos, short films, personal items and quotes from the founding father's trips to Europe starting in the early 1950s.
"The exhibition features more than 50 items to question our eyes and minds: among the special items is Sheikh Zayed's vaccination card including his hand writing dating to 1951! Visitors will also get the chance to try Sheikh Zayed's perfume."
"This exhibition is very special to me as it pays a special tribute to Sheikh Zayed, who was instrumental in establishing strong ties between the UAE and the EU, based on the key values of friendship and unity in diversity," said Minister of State, Zaki Nusseibeh said.
An array of workshops and talks about a wide variety topics will be held on the sidelines of the exhibition, which is for visitors aged five and above.
The exhibition is open seven days a week, from 9am until 10pm, and entry is free.
Group tours can be arranged by calling 056 8888 969 or by emailing SZandEurope@gmail.com.