This story comes from the time that is not closely familiar to the modern generations; yet, it can still be used for the edification of people who want to achieve power. Once, Abu Dhabi was a small, but influential sheikdom in the lower Gulf (Davidson, 2011, p. 28). It forged alliances with powerful countries and neighbors; but after the death of Sheikh Zayed bin Khalif, this kingdom began to fall into decline. The tale will be about Saqr Bin Zayed Al Nahyan because he was one of those people, who led to the near collapse of Abu Dhabi. Saqr was the son of the king, and he could enjoy wealth and high social status, but he wanted to achieve something much greater. In particular, Saqr was a very power-hungry person, who wanted to become the monarch. It was the highest ambition that he wanted to realise.
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Additionally, this person wanted to win the glory of a leader. Nevertheless, he could not become a legitimate ruler of Abu Dhabi because of the existing succession rules. So, power was the only thing that was not accessible to him. It was the underlying cause of his frustration. Nevertheless, Saqr could stick at nothing to reach his ultimate goal. He relied on violence to defeat his rivals. However, he did not suspect that this behavior would eventually result in his downfall and eventual oblivion. So, one should explain this rueful ending in greater detail because it is a narrative about what leaders must not do if they want to exert power over other people.
At first, Saqr participated in the plot aimed at overthrowing Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, who was a legitimate successor at that time (Davidson, 2011). He assisted Hamdan’s full brothers, Sultan and Hazza, who wanted to claim the title of a sheikh (Davidson, 2011, p. 28). They believed that they could quickly take control of the state. Nevertheless, they did not consider that Saqr could eventually become a very dangerous rival, who could not be satisfied with secondary roles. Admittedly, at that time, he could not come to the throne because his resources were very limited. He had to give way to one of his accomplices, Sultan. At the same time, Saqr knew that he simply had to wait for Sultan’s mistakes. To some degree, his expectations were entirely justified.
In particular, the internal feud contributed to the destruction of the state, and many people were extremely dissatisfied with the rulers. They could no longer see the difference between the contenders for the throne. They were struggling with poverty, and their lives were almost hopeless. Moreover, they did not expect that the situation would change for better or for worse. Thus, they could accept a new monarch, at least for a short time.
In turn, Saqr decided to take this opportunity and staged a bloody coup against Sultan and his son Khalid (Sarbu, 2014). Overall, Sultan’s rule was unsuccessful, and his demise was not regretted by anyone. This is why Saqr’s coup was successful, and he managed to assassinate Sultan. Moreover, for a short time, no one could oppose him. Thus, his ultimate ambition was eventually fulfilled. Saqr thought that his dreams would finally come true. However, his views were both erroneous and destructive.
Certainly, Saqr was able to usurp the throne; however, his infamous acts turned him into a despised and hated person who could no longer rely on the assistance of other people. At that point, they knew that Saqr could act in a treacherous and deceitful way. Overall, he lacked some of the qualities that are vital for leaders. For instance, one can speak about the ability to gain the trust of other people. In particular, he could not establish relations with many governmental officials (Davidson, 2011, p. 28). This is why his reign turned to be so short, insecure and unsuccessful.
Apart from that, Saqr has to face something completely unexpected. In particular, his usurpation of the throne did not bring him satisfaction because other people obeyed him only out of fear. Nevertheless, Saqr could hardly depend on their loyalty. This reaction completely perplexed Saqr, who believed that everyone would willingly accept his authority. He did not consider the idea that justice could be the primary source of power. Instead, he believed that brutal force and cunning could adequately address each of the problems that he encountered. However, these strategies could offer only short-term solutions that are not acceptable to real leaders who try to influence the values and attitudes of their followers. They set examples for others, while Saqr did not cope with this task.
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Indeed, he attempted to secure the support of external allies; for instance, he tried to forge a partnership with Wahhabis (Davidson, 2011, p. 28). Additionally, he wanted to assassinate every possible rival to his rule. For instance, one can mention Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan. He believed that in this way, he could ensure his security. His attempts were unsuccessful. Moreover, they produced just the opposite effect.
In particular, these actions turned Saqr into an outcast, and his opponents chose to overthrow him. They understood that his rule would result in the complete destruction of Abu Dhabi. Additionally, his opponents came to the conclusion that Saqr would do anything to destroy every person who he regards as an enemy. Thus, they joined their efforts against him (Sarbu, 2014). They believed that it had been impossible to reach any agreements with Saqr who could easily break his promises. So, at that time, Saqr was already doomed. However, he still cherished hope that his rule could not be questioned by anyone. Overall, this reasoning proved to be flawed because he attached importance only to coercion and threats. In turn, his opponents adopted the same strategy to defeat him.
Saqr was able to evade one of the assassination attempts made by one of Sultan’s former servants (Davidson, 2011, p. 28). However, he could not retain his power for a long time. He was finally killed by his opponents; as a result, he was succeeded by his nephew (White, 2013). Overall, Saqr’s death ended the period of fratricide in Abu Dhabi, and the sheikhdom of Abu Dhabi was able to survive (White, 2013). Currently, Saqr’s name has fallen into oblivion. It is associated mostly with the period of feud and stagnation. So, Saqr could not cover himself in glory that can be achieved through power. He failed to deserve this glory because he did not act as a real leader.
It should be noted that after Saqr’s downfall, Abu Dhabi entered the period of relative tranquility. Moreover, it was able to achieve prosperity. Nevertheless, this progress is no way related to Saqr Bin Zayed Al Nahyan. This is the central tragedy of this person who ruled Abu Dhabi for only two years. Overall, his reign was so short because he completely misunderstood the very nature of power that cannot be compared only to coercion. Moreover, he did not do anything to amend his flaws. Admittedly, one cannot say that Saqr was complexly deprived of any positive qualities, but unscrupulousness considerably diminished the role of these traits. Future leaders should be aware of this danger when they try to influence the actions and attitudes of other people.
This story is important for showing how the lust for power can destroy individuals. They can readily resort to violence to attain their goals. However, they often forget that this behavior is extremely perilous. More importantly, power, which is based only on violence, cannot be held for a long time. This is the main lesson that should be derived from the story of Saqr Bin Zayed Al Nahyan. It should be a strong warning to people who believe that violence is a legitimate method of controlling the lives of other people. Hopefully, the main moral lesson of this tale will always be remembered by those individuals who will try to become leaders. The main issue is that leadership roles cannot be acquired by using the strategies adopted by Saqr Bin Zayed Al Nahyan whose life turned to be a complete disaster. Nevertheless, one should also keep in mind that such tales are often based on the stories of victors, but they are not always accurate.
Davidson, C. (2011). Abu Dhabi: Oil and Beyond. New York, NY: Hurst Publishers. Web.
Sarbu, B. (2014). Ownership and Control of Oil: Explaining Policy Choices Across Producing Countries. New York, NY: Routledge. Web.
White, C. (2013). A Global History of the Developing World. New York, NY: Routledge. Web.