Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates, died on Friday May 13.
The President of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, died Friday at the age of 73, after having accompanied his country’s meteoric rise on the international scene for the past two decades.
Rarely seen in public since a stroke in January 2014, Sheikh Khalifa should soon be replaced by his half-brother, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Mohammed bin Zayed, known as MBZ, already considered the de facto leader of this rich oil monarchy. of the Gulf. “President Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan is dead,” announced a government statement published by the official WAM agency, without specifying the causes of death of the head of state who suffered from health problems.
Immediately after this announcement, the local media interrupted their programs to broadcast images and articles in tribute to Sheikh Khalifa. “His positions, achievements, wisdom, generosity and initiatives are found in every corner of the country,” MBZ said on Twitter. “Khalifa bin Zayed, my brother, my mentor and my teacher, may God have mercy on you.” The government declared official mourning and the flags were lowered for 40 days. The next three days from Friday will be non-working.
Born in September 1948, Sheikh Khalifa succeeded in 2004 to his father, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan, president and founding father of the Emirates, a federation of seven emirates including Dubai and the capital Abu Dhabi.
US President Joe Biden hailed Sheikh Khalifa as a “true partner and friend of the United States”. Other great allies of the Emirates, King Salman of Saudi Arabia and his Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman expressed their “great sadness” in a joint statement. The Emir of Qatar Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani also paid tribute to him.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, whose country normalized relations with the Emirates in 2020, offered his condolences. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas also offered his “sincere condolences” to the “brotherly” people of the Emirates, despite icy relations since the normalization between the Emirates and Israel. Egypt, Jordan, Pakistan and India in particular also offered their condolences.
After the establishment in 1971 of the federation of the Emirates, Sheikh Khalifa was appointed Deputy Prime Minister of the new state. He then chaired the Superior Petroleum Council, a body endowed with broad powers in the energy field.
Under his mandate, the Emirates experienced an economic boom, driven by the oil wealth of Abu Dhabi, which concentrates 90% of the reserves of the federation, and the affirmation of Dubai as a financial hub, a luxury tourist destination or even a crossroads. air transport. But the country had remained relatively discreet on the international scene, lining up behind Saudi Arabia, the juggernaut of the Gulf and the Arab world. And it is under the impetus of MBZ that the country has gradually emerged from its discretion, particularly since 2010 by gaining growing influence in the Middle East and Africa.
Abu Dhabi participates in the US-led international anti-jihadist coalition in Iraq and Syria, as well as a Saudi-led military coalition in Yemen to fight Houthi rebels.