Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan becomes president of the United Arab Emirates

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UAE rulers announced on Saturday that they have unanimously appointed Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan president of this hereditary ruled nation on the Arabian Peninsula.

State news agency WAM said the rulers of the country’s seven sheikhs made the decision at a meeting held at the Al Mushrif building in Abu Dhabi.

It comes after late President Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan died on Friday at the age of 73. The transition to power marks only the third time that this U.S.-allied nation of seven sheikhs has selected a president since becoming an independent nation in 1971.

This photo made available by the Ministry of Presidential Affairs shows Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, ruler of Abu Dhabi, front left, and Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Minister of Presidential Affairs. , front right, they carry the body of Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, president of the United Arab Emirates, with other members of the royal family at the Sheikh Sultan bin Zayed The First mosque, in Abu Dhabi on Friday 13 May 2022.

This photo made available by the Ministry of Presidential Affairs shows Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, ruler of Abu Dhabi, front left, and Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Minister of Presidential Affairs. , front right, they carry the body of Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, president of the United Arab Emirates, with other members of the royal family at the Sheikh Sultan bin Zayed The First mosque, in Abu Dhabi on Friday 13 May 2022.
(Hamad Al Kaabi / Ministry of Presidential Affairs via AP)

The latest, which saw Sheikh Khalifa take over from his father and Sheikh Mohammed, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, came after his death in 2004. The speed of Saturday’s announcement, just a day later the death of Sheikh Khalifa seemed designed to show unity and reassure the world about the stability of this crucial oil and gas producing nation that is home to Western military forces.

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WAM described the vote as unanimous among the rulers of the country’s sheikhs, which also includes the skyscraper-studded city of Dubai.

“We congratulate him and swear allegiance to him, and our people swear allegiance to him,” Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum said on Twitter after the vote. “The whole country is led by him to take him on the paths of glory and honor, God willing.”

The UAE as a whole is observing a three-day mourning period that will see the closure of businesses across the country and performances held in honor of Sheikh Khalifa. The electronic billboards all showed a picture of the deceased Sheikh in Dubai on Friday night as flags flew at half mast.

FILE - Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the crown prince of the United Arab Emirates, speaks to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a welcome ceremony at the presidential palace, in Ankara, Turkey, on November 24, 2021.

FILE – Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the crown prince of the United Arab Emirates, speaks to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a welcome ceremony at the presidential palace, in Ankara, Turkey, on November 24, 2021.
(Photo AP / Burhan Ozbilici, File)

Sheikh Mohammed, 61, had been the UAE’s de facto president since a 2014 stroke saw his half-brother Sheikh Khalifa disappear from public view. Under his leadership, the UAE has taken a more army-centric approach to the region, joining Saudi Arabia in their bloody years-long war in Yemen that still rages today.

Sheikh Mohammed has also long been suspicious of both the Muslim Brotherhood and Iran, possibly organizing a campaign against Islamists in the UAE after the 2011 Arab Spring and urging the West to take a tougher line towards Tehran. for concerns about its nuclear program and its support for paramilitary groups across the region.

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After the coronavirus pandemic, however, the UAE under Sheikh Mohammed sought to rehabilitate ties with Iran and Turkey, which supported Islamists in the region.

“The smooth transition of power in the UAE reflects the sobriety of institutional work and the advanced level of governance mechanisms and their stability,” said Anwar Gargash, a senior Emirati diplomat.