Following the death of UAE’s President, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan on Friday, his half-brother Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan has been elected the new president on Saturday. Former President Khalifa was the ruler of Abu Dhabi and suffered a stroke in 2014, leaving Mohammed to be the de facto ruler.
Also known as MBZ, Mohammed was elected by UAE’s supreme council to the delight of major nations around the world. UAE vice-president and premier as well as the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, said the entire government apparatus is delighted at the new president’s election and would remain loyal to him.
US President Joe Biden congratulated Mohammed, 61, at his election and said he looked forward to working with him to strengthen the bonds between the UAE and the United States. VP Kamala Harris will also lead a US delegation comprising top government functionaries to congratulate Mohammed and also offer condolences at the death of Khalifa.
According to Press Secretary Kirsten Allen, some of the figures billed to be on the delegation team include Secretary of State Tony Blinken, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, CIA director Bill Burns, White House Middle East coordinator Brett McGurk, acting assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs Yael Lempert, and CENTCOM commander Gen. Michael Kurilla.
“In addition to honoring the memory and the legacy of Sheikh Khalifa, the Vice President will underscore the strength of the partnership between our countries and our desire to further deepen our ties in the coming months and years,” the presidency said.
French President Emmanuel Macron, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and Israeli President Isaac Herzog are due to arrive in the UAE on Sunday on the same mission.
Given that the UAE has emerged as a strong trade and economic hub in the Arab Gulf with deep connections with Russia and China, the country has refused to take sides since the Russia-Ukraine invasion. The UAE has also refused to consent to Biden’s moves to pump more oil to counter the skyrocketing oil prices that resulted from boycotting Russian oil.
Political analysts said Mohammed would want to diversify its western and global partners to solidify its position as a regional trading, logistics, tourism, and financial hub.