Sheikh Khalifa was the second President of the UAE and the 16th Ruler of the emirate of Abu Dhabi Image Credit: Friday

UAE President H.H. Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan passed away on Friday, May 13, according to the state news agency Wam. He was 73.

The Ministry of Presidential Affairs has declared an official mourning period with the flag flown at half-mast for 40 days starting Saturday. Work in ministries, departments, federal and local institutions and the private sector will be suspended for three days, resuming on Tuesday.

The funeral prayer on the body of the deceased Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed will be held today after Maghrib prayer. Funeral prayer in absentia will be held in all mosques in the UAE.

Sheikh Khalifa was the second president of the UAE and the 16th Ruler of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. He was elected president by the Supreme Council on November 3, 2004, succeeding his father the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the Founding Father of the UAE who passed away on November 2, 2004.

Sheikh Khalifa oversaw a rapid progress of the UAE across the political, social and economic spheres in nearly two decades as UAE president. It was under his leadership that the UAE held its first election for the Federal National Council (FNC) in 2006, increasing the participation of citizens in nation-building.

His leadership also saw the successful operation of the Arab region’s first multi-unit nuclear plant, transforming the UAE into a regional hub for renewable and clean energy.

Sheikh Khalifa was also a great philanthropist, who has extended humanitarian help to more than 80 countries through the Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan Foundation.

Leaders pay respects

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, mourned the passing of the UAE President in an online post.

"It is with great sorrow and grief that we mourn to the UAE people, Arab and Islamic nations and the world the death of President of our country Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the leader of our journey... May Allah bless his soul with ease on his new journey into the hereafter and grant him the highest ranks of Paradise."

His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, also posted a message online as he remembered the UAE President.

“We belong to Allah, and indeed to Him we will return. The UAE today lost its loyal son and the leader of its empowerment stage and blessed journey, Sheikh Khalifa’s stances, wisdom, contribution, and initiatives are in every corner of the country…. Khalifa bin Zayed was my brother, advocate, and mentor… May Allah have mercy upon his soul and grant him the highest rank in Paradise."

Sheikh Khalifa was born in 1948 in Al Muwaiji Fort, Al Ain, the eldest son of Sheikh Zayed and Sheikha Hissa bint Mohammed bin Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan. He spent his early childhood years in Al Ain, which was a main agricultural hub and major strategic centre for the security of the region.

When Sheikh Zayed ascended as Ruler of Abu Dhabi in 1966, he appointed Sheikh Khalifa as Ruler’s Representative in the Eastern Region. On February 1, 1969, Sheikh Khalifa was named Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and later as Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces in 1976.

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