Image Credit: WAM

Abu Dhabi: President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan has passed away on Friday, May 13, the Emirates News Agency (WAM) reported.

In a statement issued today, the Ministry of Presidential Affairs announced the death of Sheikh Khalifa.

“The Ministry of Presidential Affairs mourns the death of the nation’s President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan,” the statement read.

The Ministry has also declared an official mourning period for the late His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan with the flag flown at half-mast for 40 days starting from today. Work in ministries, departments, federal and local institutions and the private sector will be suspended for 3 days starting from Saturday (tomorrow), and work will resume on Tuesday.

Sheikh Khalifa was the second President of the UAE and the 16th Ruler of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. He assumed the federal constitutional authority as President of the UAE and became a Ruler of the emirate of Abu Dhabi on the 3rd of November 2004, succeeding his late father Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan who passed away on the 2nd of November 2004.

Sheikh Khalifa was born in 1948 in the eastern region of the emirate of Abu Dhabi and received his primary education in the city of Al Ain, which was the administrative hub for the region. He is the eldest son of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan and his mother is Sheikha Hissa bint Mohammed bin Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

Sheikh Khalifa belongs to the tribe of Bani Yas, which is considered to be the mother tribe for most of the Arab tribes that settled in what is known today as the UAE. This tribe led an alliance of the Arab tribes, which is historically known as ‘Bani Yas Alliance’.

He followed his late father Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan in all the stages of his life. He was first appointed as the Ruler’s Representative and Chief of Courts in the Eastern Region on 18th of September 1966. This position was of a great significance in his life. While Sheikh Khalifa was staying in city of Al Ain, he received the opportunity to remain in contact with UAE citizens on a daily basis, and became aware of their needs, aspirations and hopes.

He was appointed as Crown Prince of the emirate of Abu Dhabi on the 1st of February 1969 and head of defence department. While in this position, Sheikh Khalifa assumed the leadership of defence force in the emirate and played a key role in its development, turning it from a small force into a multifunction unit armed with the most modern equipment.

On the 1st of May 1971, Sheikh Khalifa took up the position of ‘President of the first local Cabinet for the emirate of Abu Dhabi’ and assumed the portfolios of defence and finance in the Cabinet.

Following the declaration of the federal state, in addition to his local responsibilities, he occupied the post of ‘Vice President of the Cabinet of the Federal Government’, which was formed in December of 1973.

In February of 1974, and following the annulment of the local Cabinet, Sheikh Khalifa became the first President of the Executive Council that replaced the Cabinet of the emirate.

During his tenure as President of the Executive Council, Sheikh Khalifa supervised and followed up on development projects across all parts of the emirate of Abu Dhabi. His Highness gave considerable attention to the modernisation of infrastructure projects as well as development of various services. He also strived to build a modern administrative apparatus, and fully integrated legislative regulations, identifying them as fundamental to the social and economic development process.

In addition to his responsibilities as President of the Executive Council, He was in charge of establishment and presidency of Abu Dhabi Investment Authority in 1976. This authority supervises the management of financial investments of the emirate as part of a strategic vision for the development of the financial resources and conservation of a stable source of income for the generations to come.

One of the major development initiatives of profound social impact made by Sheikh Khalifa was the establishment of social services and commercial buildings department, commonly known as ‘Sheikh Khalifa Committee’. Activities of the department contributed to the development of construction activities in the emirate of Abu Dhabi.

He also assumed the position of Deputy Supreme Commander of UAE Armed Forces, during which he gave special attention to the development of the armed forces. Under Sheikh Khalifa, the armed forces achieved a great leap in the adoption of modern technologies and advanced training methods.

In a significant contribution, Sheikh Khalifa formulated a military creed, based on the supreme policy of the state that adopts a moderate approach, non-intervention in other’s affairs and respect of mutual interests. He saved no effort in drafting a defence policy that maintains independence, sovereignty and interests of the state. This policy has enabled the UAE Armed Forces to achieve an advanced position that has gained the respect of the entire world.

After he assumed office, the first strategic plan for the government of the UAE was launched under his reign. In addition, Sheikh Khalifa also launched an initiative for developing legislative authority in order to modify the technique of selecting members of the Federal National Council combining the process of election and appointment as a first step. This was aimed at providing an opportunity to select members of the Council through direct elections.

Sheikh Khalifa has been keenly interested in sports activities in the UAE, especially football. He has supported and honoured the local sports teams that achieve local, regional and international recognitions and championships.