Shaikh Zayed passes away
ABU DHABI - The president of the United Arab Emirates, Shaikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, passed away today. He was 86. Shaikh Zayed, who has been the ruler of the United Arab Emirates for more than 30 years, had been ailing for several years and did not attend Arab summits. He had a kidney transplant in August 2000.
His eldest son, Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, has been heir apparent since his father named him in 1969 crown prince of Abu Dhabi, the capital of the seven emirates.
Abu Dhabi TV interrupted regular broadcasting to break the news of Shaikh Zayed’s death, but no cause of death was provided. The announcement was followed by an Islamic cleric appearing on TV reading verses from the Qu’ran.
Shaikh Zayed, ruler of Abu Dhabi since 1966, was the founding leader of the United Arab Emirates, which he had ruled since the seven emirates forged a union and took independence from Britain in 1971. He has watched over the Emirates’ development from a cluster of desert provinces ruled by Arab tribes to a world-leading financial and banking center.
“The royal court announces to Arab and Islamic countries and the rest of the world the death of the leader of the nation Shaikh Zayed ... on Tuesday evening,” said an announcement read out on Abu Dhabi television.
Under the UAE constitution, Vice-President and Prime Minister Shaikh Maktoum bin Rashid al-Maktoum, ruler of Dubai, will act as president until the federal council which groups rulers of the seven emirates meets within 30 days to elect a new president.
Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahayan, a son of Shaikh Zayed, will automatically take over as ruler of the capital. Official sources expect the council to elect Shaikh Khalifa as the next president of the federation.
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