Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan: From a man in uniform to a passionate leader

Sheikh Mohamed has worked tirelessly to put the country on a strong footing on multiple fronts


Ashwani Kumar

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Published: Sun 15 May 2022, 12:00 PM

Last updated: Sun 15 May 2022, 12:05 PM

His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan is the third President of the UAE. The 61-year-old leader is also the Ruler of Abu Dhabi — the largest of the seven emirates constituting the Federation.

Sheikh Mohamed succeeds his brother, the late Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who passed away on May 13. Since November 2004, Sheikh Mohamed has been the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi. In January 2005, he was appointed the Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.

Sheikh Mohamed was born on March 11, 1961, in Al Ain. He is the third son of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Founding Father of the nation and the first president of the UAE. He grew up under the watchful eye of his father and his mother, Her Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak.

His full name is Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed bin Sultan bin Zayed bin Khalifa bin Shakhbout bin Theyab bin Issa bin Nahyan bin Falah bin Yas. He is married to Her Highness Sheikha Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan and has nine children, including four sons and five daughters.

Early days, working in the military

Sheikh Mohamed was educated at schools in Al Ain and Abu Dhabi until 18, including the first 10 years of his life in Rabat, Morocco. In 1979, he joined the prestigious Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst, the United Kingdom (UK) where he was trained in armour, helicopter flying, tactical flying and paratroops.

After graduating in April 1979, he returned to the UAE to join the Officers’ Training Course in Sharjah. He has held several roles in the UAE military, from Officer in the Amiri Guard (the UAE’s elite security force) and Pilot in the UAE Air Force to the Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.

Sheikh Mohamed helped develop the UAE Armed Forces in terms of strategic planning, training, organisational structure and promoting defence capabilities. His leadership led the UAE Armed Forces to become a leading institution that many international military organisations widely admire.

Among his many interests, he is known for his unwavering commitment to enhancing educational standards in the Abu Dhabi emirate and raising them to be on par with the best international standards.

Sheikh Mohamed has played a remarkable role since he became a chairman of the Abu Dhabi Education Council (Adec) over 15 years ago,

He has worked tirelessly to forge partnerships with prestigious world-class educational institutions and think tanks, several of which have subsequently announced plans to either establish a base in or join strategic joint ventures with existing academic establishments, under the direction of the late Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.


Personal interests, passion

Sheikh Mohamed is known for his passion for protecting wild falcons, houbara bustards and the Arabian Oryx. He maintains a deep interest in poetry, especially the Nabati style, which is also known as the “people’s poetry” or “Bedouin poetry”.

He regularly lends support to poetry competitions and other events, allowing them to be held under his patronage and attending in person as many of them as he can. He consistently demonstrates a commitment to cultural, artistic, literary, and innovation-based initiatives in the community.

He also follows several sports in the UAE. He is known for his frequent meetings with Emirati sports personalities, including women, to recognise their stellar feats.

Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan has received numerous citations and decorations from the UAE and many other countries, including Oman, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, Jordan, Morocco, Malaysia, Pakistan, the US, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, China, South Korea, Montenegro, and Kosovo, as well as the United Nations.

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