Ruler and first president of the United Arab Emirates. From 1966 until his death in 2004, he was a key figure in the formation of the UAE.
In 1946, he began his political career as governor of Abu Dhabi's Eastern Region.
While in power, he allowed for the construction of non-Islamic places of worship in the UAE; he also took a relatively liberal stance on women's rights.
He had six wives and twenty-nine children (including Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan) and was the son of Sheikha Salma bint Butti and Abu Dhabi ruler Sheikh Sultan bin Zayed bin Khalifah Al Nahyan. His oldest brother, Sheikh Shakhbut bin Sultan Al Nahyan, was also a ruler, as was the siblings' grandfather Sheikh Zayed bin Khalifa Al Nahyan.
He and Prime Minister Mohammed Bin-rashid Al Maktoum both held positions of political power in the United Arab Emirates.