Abu Dhabi: The United Arab Emirates’ President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan died aged 73 on Friday, state media said, after battling illness for several years.
“The Ministry of Presidential Affairs condoles the people of the UAE and the Islamic world … on the passing of Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan on Friday, May 13,” the official WAM news agency said.
The ministry announced a 40-day period of mourning and a three-day suspension of work in all ministries and the private sector beginning on Friday, including flags to be flown at half-staff.
He had long ceased having involvement in day-to-day affairs, with his brother, Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, seen as the de-facto ruler. There was no immediate announcement about the successor.
Under the constitution, vice president and premier Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, ruler of Dubai, will act as president until the federal council which groups the rulers of the seven emirates meets within 30 days to elect a new president.
Khalifa, who was born in 1948, came to power in 2004 in the richest emirate Abu Dhabi and became the head of state.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said he was deeply grieved to hear about Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed’s death.
“UAE has lost a visionary leader & Pakistan a great friend. We send our heartfelt condolences & sympathies to the government & people of the UAE. May Allah rest his soul in peace!” he tweeted. WAM