UAE President Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan passes away.
President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahyan of the United Arab Emirates, one of the world’s wealthiest monarchs, has died at the age of 73. Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, his half-brother, is now in command of the government.
Sheikh Khalifa ibn Zayed Al Nahyan, commonly known as Khalfah ibn Zyid Al Nahyan, was the president of the United Arab Emirates from 2004 to 2022. He was born in Al-Ain, Abu Dhabi emirate [now in the United Arab Emirates] in 1948 and died on May 13, 2022.
Sheikh Zayed ibn Sultan Al Nahyan, who was ruler of Abu Dhabi and head of the Nahyan dynasty from 1966 to 2004 and president of the United Arab Emirates from 1971 to 2004, had a son named Khalifa. Khalifa was raised in Al-Ain, one of the emirate’s most important cities, and when his father became emir in 1966, he became his father’s official envoy to the region.
Khalifa was chosen Prime Minister of Abu Dhabi in July 1971, just months before the United Arab Emirates was formed and declared independent (a position later retitled chairman of Abu Dhabi Executive Council). He played a key role in expanding the emirate by leveraging the emirate’s massive oil resources and encouraging private investment from Abu Dhabi residents through credit schemes. He became chairman of Abu Dhabi’s Supreme Petroleum Council in the 1980s.
Khalifa was appointed Ruler’s Representative in the Eastern Region of Abu Dhabi and Head of the Courts Department in Al Ain when his father, Zayed, became Emir of Abu Dhabi in 1966. Zayed served as the Ruler’s Representative in the Eastern Region, before he was appointed as Emir of Abu Dhabi. A few months later, Tahnoun bin Mohammed Al Nahyan was appointed to the office.
Khalifa was named Head of the Abu Dhabi Department of Defense the same day after being proclaimed Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi on February 1, 1969. He led the formation of the Abu Dhabi Defense Force, which became the core of the UAE Armed Forces after 1971.
Following the foundation of the UAE in 1971, Khalifa took on a number of roles in Abu Dhabi, including serving as the leader of the Abu Dhabi Cabinet. The Abu Dhabi Cabinet was replaced by the Abu Dhabi Executive Council after the United Arab Emirates Cabinet was restructured, and Khalifa was appointed as the UAE’s 2nd Deputy Prime Minister and Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council on December 23, 1973. (20 January 1974).
He was appointed deputy commander of the UAE Armed Forces in May 1976, reporting to the President.
In the late 1980s, he also became the chairman of the Supreme Petroleum Council. The position gave him extensive authority over energy issues. He was also the director of the Environmental Research Institute.
2004–2022 as President
On 3 November 2004, he replaced his father Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who had died the day before, as Emir of Abu Dhabi and President of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Since his father’s illness previous to his death, he had been acting president.
The President declared on December 1, 2005, that half of the members of the Federal National Council (FNC), an advisory body to the president, would be indirectly elected. The heads of the emirates continued to appoint half of the council members.
Khalifa was re-elected to a second five-year term as President in 2009.
Khalifa was referred to as a “distant and uncharismatic personage” in a WikiLeaks cable written by then-US ambassador Richard G. Olson in 2010. According to the cable, Khalifa has put his reputation and the UAE’s future at danger since 1990, when he claimed the US was willing to shed blood to protect international order and peace in the Gulf.
Khalifa dispatched the UAE Air Force to Libya in March 2011, alongside NATO, Qatar, Sweden, and Jordan, to support Muammar Gaddafi’s military involvement.
In the face of a pro-democracy movement in 2011, Khalifa offered the UAE’s full support to Bahrain.
Khalifa was named the fourth-wealthiest monarch in the world later that year, with a fortune estimated at $15 billion.
In 2013, he commissioned Azzam, the world’s longest motor yacht at 590 feet (180 metres), at a cost of $400–600 million.
Khalifa suffered a stroke in January 2014 and was said to be in stable health after undergoing surgery.
In February 2022, while his presidency, the UAE signed tourist and healthcare partnership agreements with Israel.
Sheikh Khalifa died at the age of 73 on May 13, 2022. He was laid to rest in Abu Dhabi’s Al Bateen Cemetery.
The Ministry of Presidential Affairs announced a 40-day national mourning period, with flags lowered to half-staff, as well as a three-day work stoppage in commercial enterprises and government institutions at the federal and local levels.
Many other Arab League countries have declared national mourning.
Bahrain, Lebanon, Oman, Mauritania, and Qatar have all proclaimed three days of national mourning, with flags flying at half-mast. Jordan has proclaimed 40 days of mourning, while Kuwait’s flags will fly at half-mast. Pakistan has declared three days of mourning. India has also announced a day of national mourning, with flags flying at half mast, beginning on 14 May, 2022