UAE: Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the President of the United Arab Emirates, died on Friday at the age of 73, according to state media. His modernising initiatives helped transform his country into a regional powerhouse.
“The Presidential Affairs Ministry mourn the individuals of the UAE, the Arab and Islamic nations, and the entire world. The nation’s leader and the patron of its march, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the State, perished away to the Lord’s side yesterday, Friday, May 13,” said a journalist.
“The Ministry of Presidential Affairs notifies an official mourning and flags to be flown at half-mast for the late His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, may God have mercy on him, for 40 days, starting yesterday, and halting work in ministries, departments, federal and local institutions, and the private sector for three days, starting Friday,” said a source in a tweet.
Since suffering a stroke and undergoing surgery in 2014, Sheikh Khalifa’s role has been mostly ceremonial. Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, his brother and Abu Dhabi’s crown prince, is largely seen as the UAE’s de-facto leader, administering the Gulf state’s day-to-day affairs.
Sheikh Khalifa became the UAE’s second president in 2004, replacing his father, Sheikh Zayed al Nahyan, who founded the country.
Sheikh Khalifa was Sheikh Zayed’s eldest son, born in 1948 in Abu Dhabi’s Eastern Region. He was the crown prince of Abu Dhabi and the chairman of Abu Dhabi’s Supreme Petroleum Council, which determines oil policy, before becoming President.
As President, he oversaw the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, one of the world’s largest investment funds, with assets worth hundreds of billions of dollars.
After the UAE government bailed Dubai out of its debt, one of the world’s tallest skyscrapers, the Burj Khalifa, was named after him, and as a sports lover, he sponsored the acquisition of the English Premier League soccer team Manchester City.