1918Born into the Bani Yas tribe of Abu Dhabi, the fourth son of Sheikh Sultan bin Khalifa al-Nahyan. The exact date of his birth is unknown. 1920s Spends his youth in the Jebel Hafit mountains and the desert. Picks up the tenets of Islam and learns traditions of local tribesmen. Said to have memorised much of the Quran by the age of 10. 1935Asked to guide the first Anglo-Persian Oil Company party to Abu Dhabi across areas controlled by local tribesmen. 1946Appointed ruler's representative for Al-Ain. Nurtures economy and learns the fundamentals of government. 1953First state visit abroad includes France, Britain and the US. Becomes convinced that his country must undergo speedy development for the welfare of the people. 1961 Invests personal wealth in infrastructure development. Oversees the construction of first mud road running from the palace to Al-Maqta Bridge. 1962Marries Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, the daughter of a noble bedouin family. Later marries three more times, fathering 19 sons and a number of daughters. First barrels of Abu Dhabi crude oil exported. 1966Abu Dhabi's leaders call for change, resulting in Sheikh Zayed replacing his elder brother Sheikh Shakhbout as ruler of Abu Dhabi. 1968The UK announces its intention to withdraw troops from the Trucial States. Sheikh Zayed calls for union and begins negotiating with neighbouring states. 1970Love of falconry and animals sees him create the first animal sanctuary in the Trucial States. 1971The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is formed. Sheikh Zayed is elected president on 2 December. 1976Creates the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA) to invest money generated from oil into future infrastructure development. 1983On the inauguration of the Abu Dhabi Women's Association he calls for women to have a wider role in society. 1986-1990Calls for an end to the wars in Yemen and Iran/Iraq. Sides with Kuwait in the 1990-91 Gulf War. Urges the Arab nation to stand firm either through negotiations or by force in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. 1996Ill health forces him to reduce public appearances. Celebrates his 25th year as UAE president. 1999Sends troops to Kosovo to participate in Nato-led peacekeeping force. First Arab country to do so. 2000/01Celebrations take place across the UAE after Sheikh Zayed returns safely from a kidney transplant operation. In 2001 he is re-elected for a fifth term. 2004Passes away on 2 November, leaving the UAE as one of the wealthiest nations in the world.