UAE President Khalifa dies at 73

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — The leader and president of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, died on Friday, the government said in a brief statement. He was 73 years old.

Khalifa has overseen much of the country’s economic growth and his name has been immortalized on the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, after he bailed out Dubai during its financial crisis more than a decade ago.

However, after suffering a stroke and undergoing emergency surgery in 2014, a decade after becoming president, he stopped getting involved in the day-to-day affairs of running the country.

During the last years of his life, his half-brother, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Mohammed bin Zayed, became the de facto ruler and decision maker of major foreign policy decisions.

The United Arab Emirates has announced a 40-day mourning period and a three-day work suspension across government and the private sector, including flags to be lowered to half-mast.

There was no immediate announcement on a successor.

Messages of condolences also poured in from across the region and the world.

“The UAE has lost a faithful son and the leader of its blessed empowerment journey,” Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed wrote on Twitter after his brother’s death was officially announced in state media. “Khalifa bin Zayed, my brother, supporter and mentor, may Allah Almighty grant you eternal peace.”

In a statement, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken described Khalifa “as a true friend of the United States”, adding that the United States remains committed to its unwavering friendship and cooperation with the United Arab Emirates. Vice President Kamala Harris also expressed her condolences.

Khalifa was born in 1948 in Al Ain, near the Oman border. He was the eldest son of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, revered by Emiratis as the country’s founding father. He was trained at Sandhurst – England’s Royal Military Academy.

In 1969, Khalifa was appointed prime minister of Abu Dhabi and chairman of the emirate’s defense department, which later became the core of the UAE’s armed forces.

Khalifa has helped boost the UAE’s regional profile by bolstering its military with major purchases from American arms manufacturers.

It sent warplanes to the NATO-led mission against Muammar Gaddafi’s regime in Libya in 2011. In 2014, the Emirates became one of the largest Arab participants in US-led airstrikes. United against the Islamic State militant group in Syria.

Under President Khalifa, the United Arab Emirates joined Saudi Arabia in sending forces to Bahrain to quell an uprising there by the country’s majority Shia population demanding greater rights from the nation’s Sunni rulers. islander.

It has increasingly used Abu Dhabi’s oil wealth to attract cultural and academic centers, such as a branch of the Louvre Museum and satellite campuses of New York University and the Sorbonne. He also presided over efforts to rouse the OPEC country from its dependence on petrodollars with investments in renewable energy research.

He was credited with overseeing the creation and growth of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, now one of the largest sovereign wealth funds in the world with nearly $700 billion in assets, according to Sovereign Wealth estimates. Fund Institute.

Khalifa was considered one of the richest leaders in the world with a personal fortune estimated by Forbes magazine in 2008 at $19 billion. He built a palace in Seychelles, an island nation in the Indian Ocean, and faced complaints there about water pollution from the construction site.

His personal life was not widely known to the public. He was passionate about the traditional sport of falconry and was said to enjoy fishing.

Although he has been out of public view since his stroke, Khalifa’s image adorns all hotel lobbies and major government offices across the country. On occasion, Emirati state media has published rare photographs and videos of Khalifa.

He is known to have had eight children – two sons and six daughters – with his first wife, Sheikha Shamsa bint Suhail Al Mazrouei. He also leaves to mourn several grandchildren.

FILE – The President of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, arrives at Clarence House in central London to meet the Prince of Wales on the second day of his state visit to the UK, Wednesday 1 May 2013. Sheikh Khalifa died on Friday, May 13, 2022, the government’s state-run news agency said in a brief statement. He was 73 years old. (AP Photo/John Stillwell, pool, File)
photo FILE – In this image made available by Emirates News Agency, WAM, UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, 2nd right, walks with Saudi Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz during the 31st Gulf Cooperation Council , GCC summit in Abu Dhabi, Monday, December 6, 2010. Sheikh Khalifa died on Friday, May 13, 2022, the government news agency said in a brief statement. He was 73 years old. (AP Photo/WAM-HO, File)
photo FILE – In this photo made available by Emirates News Agency, WAM, Monday, March 14, 2011, South Korean President Lee Myung Bak, left, meets the President of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, 2nd right, and UAE Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Sunday, March 13, 2011. Sheikh Khalifa died on Friday, May 13, 2022, the agency said government press in a brief statement. He was 73 years old. (AP Photo/WAM-HO, File)
photo FILE – The Prince of Wales with the President of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan during his visit to Clarence House in central London on the second day of his State visit to the UK on Wednesday 1st May 2013. Sheikh Khalifa passed away Friday, May 13, 2022, the government’s state-run news agency announced in a brief statement. He was 73 years old. (AP Photo/John Stillwell, Pool, File)
photo People walk past the national flag of the United Arab Emirates at half-mast after news of the death of the President of the Emirates, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Friday, May 13, 2022. Sheikh Khalifa died on Friday, May 13, 2022, the government government news agency announced in a brief statement. He was 73 years old. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)
photo The national flag of the United Arab Emirates flies at half mast following the announcement of the death of the President of the Emirates, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on Friday, May 13, 2022. Sheikh Khalifa died on Friday, May 13, 2022, the government news agency in a brief statement. He was 73 years old. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)
photo FILE – This Emirates News Agency photo, WAM, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates and ruler of Abu Dhabi, right, is greeted by Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Prince heir to Abu Dhabi, center, as Sheikh Humaid bin Rashid Al Nuaimi, the ruler of Ajman, left, looks on at Al Bateen Palace in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Wednesday, May 8, 2019. Sheikh Khalifa is died on Friday May 13, 2022, the official government news agency announced in a brief statement. He was 73 years old. (Rashed al-Mansoori/Ministry of Presidential Affairs via AP, File)
photo FILE – United Arab Emirates President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan walks with unseen German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Monday, February 5, 2007, to discuss bilateral relations. Sheikh Khalifa died on Friday, May 13, 2022, the government news agency said in a brief statement. He was 73 years old. (AP Photo/WAM, File)
photo FILE – The President of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, leaves Downing Street after a meeting with British Prime Minister David Cameron, in London, Wednesday May 1, 2013. Sheikh Khalifa died on Friday May 13, 2022, the state-run government news agency announced in a brief statement. He was 73 years old. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, File)

Gallery: Sheikh Khalifa of the UAE, 1948-2022

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