From Abu Dhabi Crown Prince to UAE President: Sheikh Khalifa's most significant achievements

The late ruler was revered for his just and swift leadership skills


Dhanusha Gokulan

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Published: Fri 13 May 2022, 4:18 PM

Last updated: Fri 13 May 2022, 5:29 PM

President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan died on Friday, May 13, at the age of 73, the UAE Ministry of Presidential Affairs has announced.

During his time as leader of the country, the late president played a crucial role in bringing the UAE into the 21st century.

Sheikh Khalifa was renowned for being a good listener, modest, generous and interested in his people, frequently conducting direct outreach through official missions and other occasions.

As a result, he was much loved and revered for his just and swift leadership skills. Here are some of his critical achievements before and after becoming the president of the UAE:

When UAE's Founding Father Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan moved to Abu Dhabi city to become the emirate’s ruler in August 1966, he appointed his eldest son Sheikh Khalifa - who was 18 - as his representative in the Eastern Province and the president of its legal system.

Sheikh Khalifa followed in his father’s footsteps and continued implementing major development projects in the Eastern Province, especially those designed to improve agriculture. His notable success in Al Ain was the beginning of a long career in public service that saw Sheikh Khalifa assume his leadership role with ease and skill.

During the following years, Sheikh Khalifa held several significant posts. He became the prominent executive leader of his late father’s government, overseeing the implementation of all major projects on the local and federal levels.

February 1, 1969

Sheikh Khalifa was nominated as Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi. The next day, he was appointed as the Head of the Department of Defence in Abu Dhabi. He oversaw the establishment of Abu Dhabi Defence Force (ADDF), which later became the nucleus of the UAE Armed Forces.

July 1, 1971

As part of the restructuring of the emirate’s government, he was appointed as the Ruler of Abu Dhabi and Minister of Defence and Finance.

December 23, 1973

Sheikh Khalifa assumed the post of deputy prime minister in the second cabinet.

January 20 1974

He was appointed as the first Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council, which replaced the emirate’s local cabinet.

November 3, 2004

He was elected for the presidency after the death of Sheikh Zayed, who passed away on November 2, 2004.

After his father’s passing and his accession to the role of the president of the UAE, Sheikh Khalifa launched an initiative to evolve the nomination system for members of the Federal National Council, which was seen as a first step towards the establishment of direct elections in the UAE.

Developmental projects

Under the direction of Sheikh Khalifa, the Executive Council oversaw the realisation of extensive development programmes in Abu Dhabi, including the construction of housing, water supply system, roads and general infrastructure that led to the emergence of the city of Abu Dhabi into the modern city that it is today.


Sheikh Khalifa was also in charge of establishing the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority in 1976. The authority manages the financial investments of the emirate to ensure a stable source of income for generations to come.

Source: Sheikh Khalifa's official website and

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