THE Sheikh of Abu Dhabi flew into Proserpine on Tuesday to mark the start of construction for the town's cyclone shelter.
The shelter will be built at Proserpine State School as part of a partnership with the State Government and the United Arab Emirates, which will see 10 shelters built across the state.
Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the United Arab Emirates' foreign affairs minister, had been holidaying in the Whitsundays and brought his entourage to officially turn the sod with Deputy Premier Andrew Fraser and Member for Whitsunday Jan Jarratt.
Queensland reconstruction authority chair Major General Dick Wilson also delivered a presentation to the Sheikh about last summer's weather activities.
Sheikh Abdullah said the partnership showed the strength of the relationship between the United Arab Emirates and the Queensland Government.
"I'm very delighted to be here for a very good reason," he said.
"It is true we come from very different societies, very different cultures and even very different languages…but a message from the UAE is: May peace be upon you all."
He said Arabs frequently holidayed in Queensland and the Whitsundays and sympathised with the state when Cyclone Yasi hit.
"When the cyclone took place we thought, 'we love this place'," he said.
The cyclone shelter will double as a facility for the school students to use and is expected to be complete by the start of next year's cyclone season.
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.