(Photo Credit: Khaleej Times)
Emirati news agency WAM reported on 13 May that UAE president Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan had passed away at the age of 73 due to poor health.
The Ministry of Presidential Affairs declared an official national mourning for his death for 40 days, with work in both private and public sectors suspended for three days.
According to the UAE constitution, vice-president Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum will serve as ruler of Dubai, acting as president until the federal council elects a new president within 30 days.
Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE and de facto ruler of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan (MbZ), as the next in line for succession, will likely consolidate power and acquire the title Emir of Abu Dhabi.
Khalifa bin Zayed suffered a stroke in 2014, subsequently taking the back seat in UAE political affairs, and bolstering MbZ’s influence over the national courts and foreign policy decision-making.
In recent years, MbZ has played an integral role in the Saudi-led coalition war on Yemen.
As a major partner in the Saudi-led coalition, the UAE ramped up military attacks on Yemen following Ansarallah’s liberation of Bayhan district in January.
In response to the increase in UAE aggression, Yemeni resistance group Ansarallah launched a series of unprecedented retaliatory strikes on the UAE, codenamed Operation Hurricane Yemen 1, 2 and 3.
MbZ also played a significant role in the brokering of ties between the UAE and Israel, signing the Abraham Accords alongside Bahrain in 2020.
After normalizing relations with Israel, MbZ made major arms deals with Tel Aviv, as the UAE sought weapons systems to protect itself from retaliatory strikes launched by the Yemeni armed forces and Ansarallah.
MbZ was also instrumental in the Saudi-led initiative to isolate and besiege Qatar, allegedly for its continued support of the Muslim Brotherhood and Iran.