UAE’s long-ailing leader Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed dies at 73

The United Arab Emirates’ long-ailing ruler, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, died Friday, the federal government introduced in a short lived remark. He used to be 73.

Khalifa, the president of the UAE, oversaw a lot of the rustic’s blistering financial enlargement and his identify used to be immortalized at the global’s tallest construction, the Burj Khalifa, after bailing out debt-crippled Dubai throughout its monetary disaster over a decade in the past.

The UAE’s Ministry of Presidential Affairs introduced a 40-day length of mourning and a three-day suspension of labor around the executive and personal sector, together with flags to be flown at half-staff.

He had lengthy ceased having involvement within the day by day affairs of ruling the rustic. His half-brother, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, used to be observed as the rustic’s robust de-factor ruler and the decision-maker of primary international coverage choices, similar to becoming a member of a Saudi-led conflict in Yemen and spearheading an embargo on neighboring Qatar in recent times.


There used to be no instant announcement a couple of successor, despite the fact that Mohammed bin Zayed is expected to say the presidency as Abu Dhabi’s crown prince.

There has been just one different transition of presidential energy, following the 2004 loss of life of Sheikh Khalifa’s father, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who’s broadly respected by means of Emiratis as the rustic’s founding father. The nation used to be based in 1971, having not too long ago marked its 50-year-anniversary.

Sheikh Khalifa suffered a stroke and underwent emergency surgical treatment a decade after he was president. He has in large part been out of public sight since.

In 2017, 2018 and 2019, Emirati state media printed uncommon images and video of Sheikh Khalifa. In the most recent pictures, he wore white shoes and a white conventional gown as he greeted Sheikh Mohammed and different rulers within the Emirates.

“The Emirates lost its righteous son, the leader of the ‘period of empowerment’ and the trustee of its blessed journey,” Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed wrote on Twitter after information of his brother’s loss of life used to be formally introduced throughout state media.


“Khalifa bin Zayed, my brother, my mentor and my teacher, may God bestow his vast mercy on you, his pleasure and his paradise,” he added.

The overdue president, who’s the eldest son of the UAE’s first chief since its formation in 1971, held essentially the most robust place a number of the seven semi-autonomous city-states stretching alongside the shores of the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. His function as president derived from his status as hereditary ruler of Abu Dhabi, the UAE’s greatest and richest emirate. Abu Dhabi serves as house to the federal capital.

Historically, the president of the UAE is from Abu Dhabi and the high minister is from Dubai, with the 2 overseeing the rustic’s affairs.

The nation’s regional energy and affect emanates from Abu Dhabi, which has many of the nation’s oil and fuel reserves. Dubai, then again, supplies the UAE with a swirl of exposure and headline-grabbing way of life and leisure tales that rights teams say distracts from arguable insurance policies determined in Abu Dhabi.


Despite its measurement and wealth, Abu Dhabi frequently unearths itself overshadowed by means of the glitzy neighboring emirate of Dubai, the Middle Eastern industrial hub that showcases each the UAE’s daring visions and, now and then, debt-fueled pipe goals, together with an enormous palm-shaped man-made island that sits empty years after its advent.

As Dubai’s fortunes started to falter in conjunction with the worldwide financial system in 2009, Khalifa led efforts to give protection to the federation by means of pumping billions of bucks in emergency bailout price range into Dubai. The two emirates don’t all the time see eye-to-eye on international coverage choices and compete commercially with one any other. In 2003, he known as for the advent of a brand new airline, Etihad Airways, which competes with Dubai’s a hit and far higher provider Emirates Air.

Khalifa increasingly more used Abu Dhabi’s oil wealth to draw cultural and educational facilities, similar to a department of the Louvre museum and satellite tv for pc campuses of New York University and the Sorbonne. He additionally presided over efforts to transport the OPEC nation past its reliance on petrodollars with investments in renewable power analysis, together with plans for a futuristic low-carbon desolate tract metropolis referred to as Masdar. The UAE introduced remaining 12 months its purpose to achieve net-zero emissions by means of 2050, even because it expands investments in oil and fuel for export.


Abu Dhabi’s large spending out of the country throughout Khalifa’s rule additionally helped push the emirate, which controls the majority of the UAE’s oil reserves, out from Dubai’s shadow.

In 2007, the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority got here to the rescue of an ill Citigroup Inc. with a $7.5 billion money injection. It is without doubt one of the global’s greatest sovereign wealth price range with on the subject of $700 billion in property, consistent with estimates by means of the Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute.

Khalifa additionally helped spice up the UAE’s regional profile by means of sending warplanes to the NATO-led challenge towards Moammar Gadhafi’s regime in Libya in 2011.

Questions have been raised throughout Khalifa’s rule concerning the UAE’s use of international army contractors, together with one related to the founding father of the previous Blackwater safety company, Erik Prince, who moved to Abu Dhabi in 2009. Prince used to be taken with a multimillion-dollar program to coach troops to struggle pirates in Somalia, consistent with an respectable who spoke to The Associated Press in early 2009.


But Khalifa’s identify is possibly maximum acquainted all over the world for its connection to the sector’s tallest construction, a just about half-mile (828-meter) glass-and-steel spire in Dubai. The identify of the tower used to be abruptly switched from the Burj Dubai to the Burj Khalifa at its respectable opening in January 2010 following his resolution to funnel billions of bucks to Dubai to put it aside from a full-scale monetary meltdown.

Khalifa’s symbol used to be ubiquitous, gracing each resort foyer and executive place of work around the nation. But in contrast to Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the federation’s vice chairman and high minister, he is hardly ever been observed at public occasions since his stroke.

A U.S. diplomatic cable made public by means of WikiLeaks in 2010 uncharitably described the president as “a distant and uncharismatic personage.” The ultimate years of his presidency usually are related along with his half-brother, Mohammed bin Zayed, who may be very best commander of the military.


Khalifa used to be born in 1948 within the inland oasis of Al Ain, close to the border with the sultanate of Oman, and named after his nice grandfather, Sheikh Khalifa bin Shakhbout.

In 1969, whilst the realm used to be nonetheless a British protectorate, Khalifa used to be named as Abu Dhabi high minister and chairman of the emirate’s Department of Defense, which later was the core of the UAE’s military. After independence in 1971, he was protection minister in conjunction with different roles.

Although the UAE’s ruling sheikhs hang close to absolute energy, Khalifa started an experiment with elections by means of permitting restricted balloting — by means of a hand-picked voters — for 1/2 the individuals of a 40-seat federal advisory frame in 2006. Subsequent rounds of elections in 2011 and 2015 failed to draw even two out of 5 of the ones given an opportunity to vote.

The UAE noticed not one of the Arab Spring boulevard protests that shook different portions of the area, even though within the wake of that unrest, Khalifa oversaw tightening crackdowns on Islamists and different activists, drawing grievance from global rights teams. The UAE, which perspectives Islamist actions as a risk to its ruling device, additionally supported efforts within the area to quash the Muslim Brotherhood, together with in Egypt.


Under his presidency, the UAE joined Saudi Arabia in sending forces to Bahrain to quell an rebellion there by means of the rustic’s majority Shiite inhabitants hard higher rights from the island-nation’s Sunni management.

He used to be believed to be a number of the global’s richest rulers with a private fortune estimated by means of Forbes mag in 2008 at $19 billion. He constructed a palace within the Seychelles, an island-chain country within the Indian Ocean, and confronted lawsuits there about inflicting water air pollution from the development web page.

In 2007, Khalifa made a big reward to the Johns Hopkins Medicine complicated in Baltimore. The measurement of the donation used to be now not disclosed, nevertheless it used to be described as “transformational.”

After his stroke, it fell upon Mohammed bin Zayed to care for lots of Khalifa’s tasks, frequently together with Dubai’s Sheikh Mohammed. The transition went in large part left out, as many Emiratis and international diplomats lengthy assumed that the crown prince used to be a central energy dealer within the UAE’s management.


In September 2014, the Emirates was probably the most distinguished Arab contributors in U.S.-led airstrikes towards the Islamic State militant staff in Syria, deploying its first feminine air power pilot at the preliminary raid.

Those sorties have been adopted by means of a muscular intervention into Yemen as a part of a Saudi-led coalition at the aspect of the impoverished nation’s across the world known executive towards Houthi rebels who had seized the capital of Sanaa. The UAE deployed 1000’s of troops, 52 of whom have been killed in a September 2015 missile assault on their base — the heaviest army loss within the nation’s historical past.

Khalifa’s non-public existence used to be now not a lot within the public eye. Like many within the Gulf, he used to be captivated with the normal recreation of falconry and used to be mentioned to revel in fishing. He is understood to have had 8 kids — two sons and 6 daughters — along with his first spouse, Sheikha Shamsa bint Suhail Al Mazrouei. He may be survived by means of a number of grandchildren.



Follow Adam Schreck on Twitter at www.twitter.com/adamschreck and Aya Batrawy at www.twitter.com/ayaelb

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