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Obituary: His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan

President of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Abu Dhabi His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan passed away aged 73, on 13 May, Friday, the UAE’s official news agency WAM said.

A statement issued by the Ministry of Presidential Affairs announced his death. “The Ministry of Presidential Affairs mourns the death of the nation’s President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.”

The Ministry announced 40 days of mourning, with flags at half-mast from Friday and work suspended for the first three days in the public and private sectors.

Sheikh Khalifa took over as the UAE’s second President in November 2004, succeeding his father, the late His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. Born in 1948, Sheikh Khalifa was the eldest son of Sheikh Zayed. He was also the 16th Ruler of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.

During his tenure he has been instrumental in bringing about a major restructuring of both the federal government and the government of Abu Dhabi. After being elected as the President, Sheikh Khalifa launched his first strategic plan for the UAE government to achieve balanced and sustainable development, placing the prosperity of UAE citizens and residents at the core. In addition, he launched an initiative to evolve the nomination system for members of the Federal National Council (FNC), which was seen as an introduction towards the establishment of direct elections in the UAE.

The President was also the one who championed many major developmental projects in the country. He steered the growth of the oil and gas industry and the downstream sector that have contributed successfully to the country’s economic diversification and prosperity.

He undertook extensive tours throughout the UAE to study the needs of the Northern Emirates and gave instructions for setting up a number of schemes related to housing, education, and social services.

His key objectives as President was to continue on the path laid down by his father Sheikh Zayed, whose legacy, he said “will continue to be the beacon guiding us into the future, a prosperous future where security and stability will reign.”

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