His Highness Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan was the man who was basically responsible for creating the country the United Arab Emirates. He was able to unite the seven Emirates into one country. I think that having Sheikh Zayed be the last entry on this list is very appropriate considering how revered he is in not just his home Emirate of Abu Dhabi, but in all of the U.A.E. I think that the closest thing an American can come to understanding the average Emirati's feelings towards Sheikh Zayed would be if George Washington or one of the other founding fathers had died within the past ten years.
Throughout my blog, you will read a lot of snide comments about the U.A.E. and Abu Dhabi, but that's just my writing style. Sure there are things that happen that can make living here a trying experience, but overall, this is a pretty nice place to live. Almost everything nice about this place is due to the infrastructure that Sheikh Zayed set up initially.
There are oil-rich countries such as Saudi Arabia, that took the oil wealth and gave it to a privileged few, leaving the rest of the country to fend for itself under oppressive laws. Sheikh Zayed, on the other hand, saw the need to not only spread the wealth around, but to create institutions of higher learning that anyone could attend in order to create an educated population. He also looked to the future, investing the country's surplus wealth in long-term investments for when the oil eventually dries up. He created parks and loads of public green space so families could relax outside when the weather is nice. He was actively involved in the construction of the Grand Mosque, a beautiful landmark where he is laid to rest.
Sure, not all of his plans panned out the way that he'd hoped, but he did a very nice job of founding a country when other countries in similar situations have failed. For that, His Highness Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, is rightfully revered. I don't think you'll get a lot of argument from anyone on that, least of all me.