An array of presidents and prime ministers continued to descend on the United Arab Emirates Sunday from around the globe to pay their respects to the federation’s late ruler. They additionally got here to reward his successor, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan — a vivid signal of Abu Dhabi’s affect in Western and Arab capitals.
The first Western chief to jet to the oil-rich emit was French President Emmanuel Macron. He met Sunday with Sheikh Mohammed to pay tribute to Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the long-ailing ruler who died Friday on the age of 73 after years presiding over the nation’s speedy transformation into a world enterprise hub and regional energy middle.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was anticipated to reach later Sunday to supply condolences, together with different leaders together with Israel’s president after the 2 international locations opened formal relations in 2020.
An American delegation led by Vice President Kamala Harris is because of go to the UAE on Monday, a bid to ease tensions and present assist as relations between the international locations have strained below President Joe Biden.
“He was respected by all for the values of peace, openness and dialogue that he embodied,” Macron wrote on Twitter of Sheikh Khalifa, expressing “full support” for the ascension of his half-brother Sheikh Mohammed after rulers within the federation unanimously appointed him as president.
People collect to mourn the dying of Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan at Al Mushrif Palace in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Image: Reuters)
As crown prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed has served because the nation’s de facto chief since Sheikh Khalifa suffered a stroke in 2014. He has turned the small UAE — inhabitants 10 million — into one of the crucial influential Arab states. With Abu Dhabi’s petrodollars and substantial navy together with Dubai’s main corporations and glitzy motels, the UAE has come to wield outsized energy throughout the Middle East and Africa.
Even because the nation grew to become entangled within the bloody, yearslong battle in Yemen and a chaotic proxy conflict in Libya, it positioned itself as a savvy and dependable accomplice in Western capitals.
Paris and Abu Dhabi have develop into more and more aligned in recent times, sharing a deep distrust of Islamist actions just like the Muslim Brotherhood throughout the area, together with in Turkey and Libya.
France opened a serious abroad naval base in Abu Dhabi. French warplanes and personnel are additionally stationed at a facility outdoors the Emirati capital. The two governments collectively constructed a gleaming department of the Louvre museum within the Emirates.
During Macron’s go to to Dubai final December, France clinched its largest abroad order for its Rafale fight jet with the UAE — an USD 18 billion deal that got here as a deliberate US sale of superior F-35 fighter jets to the UAE stalled partly over American considerations concerning the Emirates’ relationship with China.
British Prime Minister Johnson, for his half, mentioned his go to to mourn Sheikh Khalifa confirmed “the deep ties which unite our countries will continue through our cooperation and friendship.”
It marks Johnson’s second journey this yr to the desert sheikhdom, a number one investor within the United Kingdom and key export market after Britain’s exit from the European Union. In March Johnson met with Sheikh Mohammed to influence him to spice up oil manufacturing and soothe vitality markets after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — in the end to no avail.
Queen Elizabeth II additionally congratulated Sheikh Mohammed on his assumption of energy and praised her nation’s “strong and historic bonds” with the UAE, a former British protectorate.
Sheikh Mohammed’s assertive overseas coverage within the Arab world was on stark show as allied leaders hastened to the capital on Saturday to specific sorrow over Sheikh Khalifa’s dying and congratulate Sheikh Mohammed on his formal ascension to energy.
Among the primary was Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, the Egyptian basic who, with Gulf Arab assist, overthrew an elected however divisive Islamist authorities in 2013.
Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi gives condolences as he walks with UAE President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan. (Image: Reuters)
Emirati-backed Tunisian President Kais Saied, who has amassed practically absolute energy within the nation since dismissing the prime minister final yr, additionally flew in to pay tribute, together with Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Iraq’s president and prime minister.
Sudan’s Abdel-Fattah Burhan, the overall who led the coup within the strategic east African nation final yr, has made frequent visits to key backer Sheikh Mohammed. He posted footage on social media Saturday sprinting up stairs to board his aircraft to Abu Dhabi to honor the late Emirati president.
Kazakhstan President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev gives condolences on the dying of UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan. (Image: Reuters)
The UAE’s latest deal to normalize ties with Israel, borne from mutual enmity for Iran, can also be indicative of Sheikh Mohammed’s quietly assertive overseas coverage. Before Israel’s largely ceremonial President Isaac Herzog took off for Abu Dhabi on Sunday, he supplied phrases of gratitude for the Emirates’ leaders.
“The partnership between our countries is an asset for us and for the whole region and it has been built and is still being built by bold and groundbreaking leaders,” he mentioned.
Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani made his first go to to the UAE on Sunday since 2017, when the Emirates joined a Saudi-led boycott of the tiny energy-rich state over its assist for Islamists. The Arab states dropped their embargo and reopened borders final yr, though relations stay chilly between Abu Dhabi and Doha.
Meanwhile, Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s personal upstart crown prince who has had a detailed relationship with Sheikh Mohammed, delivered his condolences on the cellphone.