Shaikh Zayed — conscience of the Arab nation

BEIRUT — In a gesture proving the importance of late president Shaikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan to the entire Arab nation, and not just the UAE, Lebanese sculpture and poet Atef Al Asaad has commemorated the man he describes as ‘the conscience of the nation’; through the way he knows best — his art.

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Published: Sun 5 Dec 2004, 11:31 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 1:23 PM

“This is my offering to the family of Shaikh Zayed, as a message of appreciation and solidarity in their time of grief, and a message of contemplation,” said Al Asaad, talking about hi sculpture.

“Shaikh Zayed was a unique Arab leader who enjoyed unconditional love from entire Arab nation,” he said. “He boosted a noble humanitarian spirit and was always zealous to remedy whenever needed,” Al Asaad added, explaining that was the reason he made the sculpture.

“I am only inspired by people of high morality to convey in my art, and Shaikh Zayed was one of the few leaders who touched my soul,” he said. “He was the conscience of the Arab nation, which is the reason I called my sculpture ‘conscience of a nation’.”

The artist is known to have honoured the world’s most enigmatic and humanitarian figures with his art.

During the pope’s visit to Lebanon back in 1997, he presented the pope with a statue of the pontiff he sculptured. He also presented mother Theresa with one.

Al Asaad as well honoured the Palestinian struggle with carving the Palestinian statue of liberty, portraying the relentless “Intifada” child. He offered this sculpture to the heroic Palestinian people.

“I am touched by any issue- or person- with a humanitarian message,” Al Asaad said, adding that all his work was self-financed.

“I am not searching for material gain out of my art,” he said. “I honour these symbols because they deserve to be honoured,” he added. “My work aims at commemorating their message and preserves their memory and the value of their spirit.”

“I still remember the clapping of about 100,000 youth when my statue was presented to the Pope in Lebanon,” he said. “That peak moment touched me, and I felt I had the due appreciation which overwhelmed me,” he said affectionately.

The artist, who operates from various workshops in Lebanon, UAE and West Africa, is also the winner of an international competition launched for the best design of the monument to be placed at the entrance of Bourj El Arab in Dubai.

His bronze monument, called ‘The Dawn’, won the first prize from between 53 other sculptures participating worldwide. According to Asaad, his sculptures are distinguished by the use of old techniques, which highlights meticulous details in his work. “This is what makes my work unique,” he said.

“I use old techniques that were used in ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt,” he said, explaining that he had the privilege of bringing back these old techniques on grand scale monuments.

“I started using these techniques to prove the importance of our heritage, and because they add detailed beauty and harmony to the work,” he said.

Al Asaad, who carries a message of love for the UAE and its people, said that he was ready to ship the sculpture of late Shaikh Zayed any time, should the authorities concerned arrange for the setup location and details of the sculpture.

“Shaikh Zayed ‘Al Waled’ will always live in the memory of the noble people of his nation,” he said. “He was a great symbol like Jamal Abdel Nasser and Nelson Mandela,” Al Asaad Added. “The nation has lost a great leader who will be sincerely missed for many generations to come.”

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