May 13, 2022 - World

UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan dies at 73

Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan
Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan in 2013. Photo: Oli Scarff/Getty Images

United Arab Emirates President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan died Friday at the age of 73, state media reported.

The big picture: Sheikh Khalifa had rarely been seen in public since suffering a stroke in 2014. His brother, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, has been considered the de facto ruler of the country since then.

  • No successor has been named, but it is widely expected that Mohammed bin Zayed will be appointed to the top post.

Flashback: Sheikh Khalifa was the eldest son of the founder of the UAE, Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan al-Nahyan.

  • He assumed office in 2004 when Sheikh Zayed died. Since suffering a stroke, Sheikh Khalifa had been in poor health.

What they're saying: President Biden in a statement offered his condolences to "Sheikh Khalifa’s family and all Emiratis as they mourn this great loss."

  • "We will honor his memory by continuing to strengthen the longstanding ties between the governments and people of the United States and the United Arab Emirates," Biden said, calling Sheikh Khalifa a "true partner and friend" of the U.S.
  • Secretary of State Tony Blinken added in a separate statement: "We mourn his passing, honor his legacy, and remain committed to our steadfast friendship and cooperation with the United Arab Emirates."

What's next: Sheikh Khalifa's funeral will begin Saturday and last three days, the UAE Ministry of Presidential Affairs announced.

  • There will be a 40-day official mourning period, according to the announcement.
  • The rulers of the seven emirates that form the federation are expected to meet and vote on the appointment of the new president in the coming weeks.
  • It's only the second succession process in the UAE since the country was founded more than 50 years ago.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with Biden and Blinken's statements.

Go deeper