STXfilms, Shekhar Kapur and Cliff Dorfman (Warrior) are developing a biopic based on the life of former President of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. Kapur, who directed Elizabeth and Elizabeth: The Golden Age will direct from a screenplay being written by Dorfman.
“Patterned after great movies like Gandhi, Selma, and Darkest Hour, this project will tell the story of a dynamic, powerful personality who helped create historic change,” said Adam Fogelson, Chairman of STXfilms.
Zayed has been a controversial figure in history, a Muslim leader who promoting women’s rights across the Arab world. One of his quotes: “To treat every person, no matter what his creed or race, as a special soul, is a mark of Islam.”
As the Muslim head of state for many, many years, his push to Westernize his culture and build his economy was polarizing. He also asked for the UN for sanctions to be lifted against Iraq after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait though the latter country vehemently was against it. He was (he died in 2004) also very charitable in using the riches from oil to build the country up with hospitals.
This comes as the Holy Month of Ramadan celebrates its “Year of Zayed” pushing values of tolerance and co-existence.
During his reign as the nation’s first President, the Sheik strived to create peace. He was instrumental in the formation of the UAE in 1971 and was seen by economic experts as a visionary. Zayed became known for also promoting environmental protection and carried out major reforms to the UAE’s education, healthcare, public housing, and urban development.
Kapur is repped by CAA; Dorfman by ICM Partners.