Abu Dhabi, UAE: The United Arab Emirates (UAE) President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan has died after a years-long battle with illness, the state news agency WAM reported on Friday. He was 73 years old.
“The Ministry of Presidential Affairs mourns the people of the UAE, the Arab and Islamic nations, and the whole world. The leader of the nation and the patron of its march, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the State, passed away to the Lord’s side today, Friday, May 13,” WAM said in a Friday statement”
The Ministry of Presidential Affairs announced a 40-day period of mourning for the President whose modernization policies helped transform his country into a regional powerhouse.
“The Ministry of Presidential Affairs announces 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 a period of 40 days, starting today, and suspending work in ministries, departments, federal and local institutions, and the private sector for 3 days, starting today (Friday),” WAM said in a tweet.
Sheikh Khalifa was appointed as the second president of the UAE in 2004, succeeding his father and founder of the nation, Sheikh Zayed al Nahyan.Born in 1948 in the Eastern Region of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Khalifa was the eldest son of Sheikh Zayed. Prior to his role as president, he was crown prince of Abu Dhabi and headed Abu Dhabi’s Supreme Petroleum Council, which drafts oil policy.
Sheikh Khalifa, who was in office during a time of rocketing fortunes for the United Arab Emirates but was rarely seen in public, is likely to be replaced by his half-brother, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, who was already viewed as the country’s de facto ruler.
As president he headed one of the largest investment funds in the world, the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, managing hundreds of billions of dollars in assets.
The most visible testament to Sheikh Khalifa is the world’s tallest building, Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, which was renamed after he bailed out the debt-hit emirate when the global financial crisis struck in 2009.
One of the world’s tallest buildings, the Burj Khalifa, took on his name after the UAE government bailed Dubai out of its debt, and as a sports fan he supported the acquisition of English Premier League soccer club Manchester City.
According to the constitution, Vice-President and Premier Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, ruler of Dubai, will act as president until the federal council elects a new president within 30 days
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