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Last Updated: Wednesday, 3 November, 2004, 16:05 GMT
UAE buries 'father' Sheikh Zayed
Mourners with Sheikh Zayed's coffin
After prayers, Sheikh Zayed's coffin was moved for burial
The funeral of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan, president of the United Arab Emirates, has taken place in Abu Dhabi.

Thousands of people lined the streets to mourn a much-loved leader, known affectionately as Baba, or Father.

Arab leaders and dignitaries from around the world assembled in Abu Dhabi for private prayers and a procession.

Sheikh Zayed, who was 86, was known for his generosity, moderation and diplomacy, and had led the UAE since its achieved independence in 1971.

UAE citizens speak of a profound sense of loss over the death of Zayed, their only ruler since independence in 1971.

"Farewell our father, our sheikh and sage of the Arab world," Khaleej newspaper said in a banner headline.

Solemn atmosphere

A host of Arab leaders and other regional statesmen visited Abu Dhabi for the funeral, which began with prayers at a central mosque.

SHEIKH ZAYED
Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan of Abu Dhabi
Born in 1918, fourth son of ruler of Abu Dhabi
Took power from his brother in 1966
President of UAE since foundation in 1971

Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah, Jordan's King Abdullah, Iraqi President Ghazi al-Yawer, as well as the leaders of Bahrain, Kuwait and Lebanon paid their respects.

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and newly-elected Afghan President Hamid Karzai were also among the mourners.

Ruling family members of the seven emirates that make up the UAE offered private prayers at the Sheikh Sultan mosque before a funeral procession to a burial plot at the Zayed Grand Mosque.

Men and women lined the road as the cortege passed through the streets.

The BBC's Julia Wheeler in Abu Dhabi says the atmosphere on the streets of the capital was solemn and sorrowful.

Women sobbed loudly and threw themselves to the ground while men stood in solemn silence, as up to 150 vehicles passed by, our correspondent says.

Members of the public who did not attend the official prayers were asked to pray for the soul of their late president at their local mosques.

Oil rich

Forty days of mourning have been declared and schools and government offices will remain closed for eight days. The private sector will close for three days.

Several other Arab states have declared a period of mourning, including Iraq, Jordan and Egypt.

Women line the road waiting for the funeral cortege
Some women tried to throw themselves at the cortege
US Secretary of State Colin Powell has sent a message of condolence saying: "Sheikh Zayed was a model of generosity, wisdom and leadership."

Lebanese President Emile Lahoud called Sheikh Zayed's death a "loss for his people, for Lebanon, for the Arab states and for the entire world".

A statement issued by Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak said Sheikh Zayed was "a very dear friend, a leader and the best of men".

Sheikh Zayed became president of the UAE at its birth in 1971, having been ruler of the richest and largest emirate, Abu Dhabi, since 1966.

Correspondents say the succession of his son, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, as UAE president is likely to be smooth.

The UAE was created in 1971, when six Gulf sheikhdoms - Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Sharjah and Umm al-Qaiwain - gained independence from Britain.

The seventh emirate, Ras al-Khaimah, joined in 1972.

Under Sheikh Zayed's rule, with the massive income generated by oil, the country was transformed from a tribal backwater to a world financial centre.




FROM OTHER NEWS SITES:
CNN Son takes UAE leadership role - 29 hrs ago
Arab News World Leaders Pay Homage to Zayed - 30 hrs ago
ABCNEWS.com Leaders Attend UAE President's Funeral - 36 hrs ago
Lebanon Daily Star U.A.E. picks Sheikh Khalifa as president - 37 hrs ago
Middle East Online Emiratis pay their last respects to Sheikh Zayed - 40 hrs ago
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SEE ALSO:
Press mourns death of Gulf leader
03 Nov 04  |  Middle East
UAE to get first woman minister
02 Nov 04  |  Middle East
Country profile: United Arab Emirates
09 Jul 04  |  Country profiles
Timeline: United Arab Emirates
11 Aug 04  |  Country profiles


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