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Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan

Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan
The President, Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil with the President of UAE, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahayan at the Ceremonial Reception, at Mushrif Palace, in Abu Dhabi on November 22, 2010 (cropped).jpg
Khalifa in 2010
2nd President of the United Arab Emirates
In office
3 November 2004 – 13 May 2022
Prime MinisterMaktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum
Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum
Preceded byZayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan
Succeeded byMohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum (acting)
Ruler of Abu Dhabi
In office
2 November 2004 – 13 May 2022
Preceded byZayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan
Succeeded byMohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan
Personal details
Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan

(1948-09-07)7 September 1948
Al Ain, Trucial States
(now United Arab Emirates)
Died13 May 2022(2022-05-13) (aged 73)
Spouse(s)Shamsa bint Suhail Al Mazrouei
Children8, including Sultan and Mohammed

Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan (Arabic:  خليفة بن زايد بن سلطان آل نهيان‎; 7 September 1948 – 13 May 2022) was the  President of the United Arab Emirates, the Emir of Abu Dhabi, and the supreme commander of the United Arab Emirates Armed Forces from 2004 to 2022. He was also the Chairman of the Supreme Petroleum Council from the late 1980s.

As the crown prince, Khalifa carried out some aspects of the presidency in a de facto capacity from the late 1990s when his father Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan faced health problems. He succeeded his father as the emir of Abu Dhabi on 2 November 2004 and the presidency of the United Arab Emirates the following day.

During his reign, he was deemed one of the richest monarchs in the world. He controlled 97.8 billion barrels of oil reserves and was chairman of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, which manages $875 billion in assets, the largest amount managed by a nation's head of state in the world.  Collectively, the Al Nahyan family is believed to hold a fortune of $150 billion. On 4 January 2010, the world's tallest man-made structure, originally known as Burj Dubai, was renamed the Burj Khalifa in his honor, after Abu Dhabi gave Dubai $10 billion to help pay off debts. In 2018, Forbes named Khalifa in its list of the world’s most powerful people.

In January 2014, Khalifa had a stroke and was in a stable condition after surgery. He then assumed a lower profile in state affairs but retained ceremonial presidential powers. His half-brother Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan carried out public affairs of the state and day-to-day decision-making of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.


Early life and education

Khalifa was born on 7 September 1948 at Qasr Al-Muwaiji, Al Ain, in Abu Dhabi (then part of the Trucial States), the eldest son of Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. He was a graduate of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.


When his father, Zayed, became Emir of Abu Dhabi in 1966, Khalifa was appointed the Ruler's Representative (the mayor) in the Eastern Region of Abu Dhabi and Head of the Courts Department in Al Ain. Zayed was the Ruler's Representative in the Eastern Region before he became the Emir of Abu Dhabi. A few months later the position was handed to Tahnoun bin Mohammed Al Nahyan.

On 1 February 1969, Khalifa was nominated the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, and on the next day he was appointed Head of the Abu Dhabi Department of Defense. In that post, he oversaw the build up of the Abu Dhabi Defense Force, which after 1971 became the core of the UAE Armed Forces.

Independence in 1971

Following the establishment of the UAE in 1971, Khalifa assumed several positions in Abu Dhabi: Prime Minister, head of the Abu Dhabi Cabinet (under his father), Minister of Defense, and Minister of Finance. After the reconstruction of the Cabinet of the United Arab Emirates, the Abu Dhabi Cabinet was replaced by the Abu Dhabi Executive Council, and Khalifa became the 2nd Deputy Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates (23 December 1973) and the Chairman of the Executive Council of Abu Dhabi (20 January 1974), under his father.

In May 1976, he became deputy commander of the UAE Armed Forces, under the President. He also became the head of the Supreme Petroleum Council in the late 1980s, and continued in this position until his death in 2022. The post granted him wide powers in energy matters. He was also the chairman of the Environmental Research and Wildlife Development Agency.[citation needed]


Sheikh Khalifa with his father Sheikh Zayed Al Nahyan

Khalifa was the eldest son of Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan and Hassa bint Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Nahyan.

He was married to Shamsa bint Suhail Al Mazrouei, and had eight children: Sultan, Mohammed, Shamma, Salama, Osha, Sheikha, Lateefa, and Mouza.

Presidency (2004–2022)

Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan with President of Russia Vladimir Putin on 10 September 2007

He succeeded to the posts of Emir of Abu Dhabi and President of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on 3 November 2004, replacing his father Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who had died the day before. He had been acting president since his father became ill prior to his passing.

On 1 December 2005, the President announced that half of the members of the Federal National Council (FNC), an assembly that advises the president, would be indirectly elected. Half of the council's members would still need to be appointed by the leaders of the emirates. The elections were set to take place in December 2006.

In 2009, Khalifa was re-elected as President for a second five-year term.

During his presidency in February of 2022, the UAE signed partnership agreements with Israel on tourism and healthcare.

Khalifa and U.S. President George W. Bush at Abu Dhabi International Airport, 13 January 2008

In 2010, Khalifa was described in a WikiLeaks cable signed by then U.S. ambassadorRichard G. Olson as a "distant and uncharismatic personage." The cable said that Khalifa had risked his reputation and the UAE’s future since 1990, when he described the United States as willing to shed blood to maintain international order and stability in the Gulf.

In March 2011, Khalifa sent the United Arab Emirates Air Force to support the military intervention in Libya against Muammar Gaddafi, alongside forces from NATO, Qatar, Sweden, and Jordan.

Khalifa pledged the full support of the UAE to the Bahraini regime in the face of pro-democracy uprising in 2011.

Later that year Khalifa was ranked as the world's fourth-wealthiest monarch, with a fortune estimated to be worth $15 billion. In 2013, he commissioned Azzam, the longest motor yacht ever built at 590 ft (180 m) long, with costs between $400–600 million.

In fall 2011, the Emirates initiated a program to promote "allegiance" to Khalifa and other Emirati leaders. The program continues, and encourages not only Emirati nationals, but residents from any nationality to register their "appreciation, recognition, and loyalty" to the Emirs.

In January 2014, Khalifa had a stroke and was reported to have been in a stable condition after undergoing an operation.

Investments and foreign aid

Seychellois government records show that since 1995 Sheikh Khalifa has spent $2 million buying up more than 66 acres of land on the Seychelles' main island of Mahé, where what was to be his palace is being built. The Seychelles' government has received large aid packages from the UAE, most notably a $130 million injection that was used in social service and military aid, which funded patrol boats for the Seychelles' antipiracy efforts. In 2008, the UAE came to the indebted Seychelles government's aid, with a $30 million injection.

Sheikh Khalifa paid $500,000 for the 29.8-acre site of his palace in 2005, according to the sales document. A Seychelles planning authority initially rejected the palace's building plans, a decision overturned by President James Michel's cabinet. A month after the start of construction of the palace, the national utility company warned that the site's plans posed threats to the water supply. Joel Morgan, the Seychelles' minister of the environment, said the government did not tender the land because it wanted it to go to Sheikh Khalifa. Morgan said "the letter of the law" might not have been followed in the land sale.

In February 2010, the sewage system set up by Ascon, the company building the palace, for the site's construction workers overflowed, sending rivers of waste through the region, which is home to more than 8000 residents. Local government agencies and officials from Khalifa's office responded quickly to the problem, sending in technical experts and engineers. Government officials concluded that Ascon ignored health and building codes for their workers, and fined the company $81,000. Ascon blamed the incident on "unpredicted weather conditions". Khalifa's presidential office offered to pay $15 million to replace the water-piping system for the mountainside, and Seychelles' government representatives and residents say Ascon has offered to pay roughly $8,000 to each of the 360 households that were affected by the pollution.

Through the Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan Foundation, the UAE supported the Yemeni people in August 2015 with 3,000 tonnes of food and aid supplies. By 19 August 2015, the foundation had sent Yemen 7,800 tonnes of food, medicine, and medical supplies.

In April 2016, Sheikh Khalifa was named in the Panama Papers by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists; he reportedly owned luxury properties in London worth more than $1.7 billion via shell companies that Mossack Fonseca set up and administers for him in the British Virgin Islands.


Sheikh Khalifa died on 13 May 2022 at the age of 73. The Ministry of Presidential Affairs announced a 40-day national mourning with flags at half staff along with a three-day suspension of work in private firms and the official entities at the federal and local levels of institution.

State mourning was also announced in many other Arab League nations. Bahrain, Lebanon, Oman, Mauritania and Qatar declared official mourning and flags at half-mast for three days. In Jordan, mourning was declared for 40 days while flags will fly half-mast in Kuwait.. Pakistan announced a 3 day mourning over his death. A statement by the Foreign ministry said "the UAE has lost a visionary leader, and the people of Pakistan a sincere friend." India also declared a period of national mourning with flags at half staff for one day starting from 14 May 2022.


Styles of
President of the United Arab Emirates
Emblem of Abu Dhabi.svg
Reference styleHis Highness
Spoken styleYour Highness
Alternative styleRa'is


See also

This page was last updated at 2022-05-13 22:40 UTC. Update now. View original page.

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