UAE leaders pay tribute to renowned media figure Ibrahim Al Abed

Ibrahim Al Abed founded Wam, the Emirates News Agency, and was a towering figure for generations of journalists and editors

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES -  March 12, 2018: HH Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces (L), presents an Abu Dhabi Award to HE Ibrahim Abdulrahman Al Abed (R), during the awards ceremony at the Sea Palace.
( Ryan Carter for the Crown Prince Court - Abu Dhabi )

Related: Ibrahim Al Abed: A man who told the UAE’s story in a way few others could

The UAE lost one of its greatest journalists on Tuesday.

Ibrahim Al Abed, who died at the age of 78, was a towering figure in the UAE’s media sector from the 1970s on.

His work ensured the world would soon know all about a country called the United Arab Emirates.

He continued to play an important role in the media sector to the very end and, on Tuesday, the country's leaders paid tribute to him.

Mr. Ibrahim Al-Abed ... has devoted his life with all dedication to serving the nation from the beginning of its establishment to the last hours of the morning. courtesy: Noura al Kaabi twitter account

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, said that Al Abed spent five decades working tirelessly for the country.

"Our condolences to [the] media sector in the UAE on the death of one of its founders, Ibrahim Al Abed," wrote Sheikh Mohammed on Twitter. "He has spent five decades working tirelessly until the last day ... Our condolences to his family, loved ones and friends and to all media professionals in the UAE."

Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, said he was a giant of the UAE media scene.

"Our sincere condolences on the passing of Ibrahim Al Abed, a UAE media giant who dedicated five decades of his life to serving our nation," said Sheikh Mohamed. "May he rest in peace."

Noura Al Kaabi, Minister of Culture and Youth, said the country had lost someone of great stature who spent his life working for the UAE.

"Ibrahim Al Abed ... devoted his life ... to serving the nation. We will miss you," she said.

Sultan Al Qassemi, Sharjah's cultural figure who runs the Barjeel Art Foundation, said Al Abed's death was a major loss for the country.

"I'm really saddened to learn of the passing .. today of Ibrahim Al Abed, a giant Emirati of Palestinian descent in the field of media and publishing," he wrote.

"Al Abed had a way of rationalising the world [and] UAE policies that was unlike anyone I had interacted with. He was fatherly and wise and even when I may have held other opinions I still took his advice."

Zaki Nusseibeh, Minister of State, said Al Abed had made a major contribution.

"[He was] known for his dedication and sincerity in serving the homeland, may God have mercy on him," he said.

The Ministry of Presidential Affairs were among the other government bodies that sent their condolences.

Al Abed was born in Palestine and then came to the UAE in the 1970s. Among his big achievements was founding the Emirates News Agency (Wam) in 1976, five years after the country's unification. It began work in 1977 and, under his direction, Wam has told the story of how the UAE has grown into a modern country.

Most recently, he served on the board of directors at the National Media Council and was a member of The National's editorial advisory board.

"Today we lost the brother and friend of the Emirati media, Ibrahim Al Abed, who passed away at dawn today in Abu Dhabi," wrote Nabeel Al Hamer, media adviser to the King of Bahrain, on social media. "We ask God to provide him with the fullness of his mercy and forgiveness."

Throughout his career, Al Abed was committed to fair and accurate stories. He quickly grasped the power of social media and made the transition to digital media with ease.

He was a familiar face at many conferences and summits in the UAE. He remained an invaluable mentor to journalists, editors and media officials over the years, taking an interest in supporting journalism across the UAE.