UAE mourns Sheikh Khalifa’s death: How the leader steered the nation into the 21st century

Key facts about the second president and 16th Ruler of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi


Dhanusha Gokulan

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Published: Fri 13 May 2022, 2:52 PM

Last updated: Fri 13 May 2022, 5:28 PM

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

Sheikh Khalifa was the second president of the United Arab Emirates and the 16th Ruler of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.

Birth and origins

Born on September 7, 1948, at the Al Muwaiji Fort in Al Ain, Sheikh Khalifa is the eldest son of the founding father of the UAE, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

His mother was Sheikha Hessa bint Mohammed bin Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan. His full name was Khalifa bin Zayed bin Sultan bin Zayed bin Khalifa bin Shakhbout bin Theyab bin Issa bin Nahyan bin Falah bin Yas.

Al Muwaiji village was a centre of influence for the Al bu Falah subsection of the Bani Yas tribal confederation and the Al Nahyan ruling family.

He received his school education in Al Ain at the city's first school built by his father. He was greatly influenced by his father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

Sheikh Khalifa spent most of his childhood in the oases of Al Ain and Al Buraimi in his father's company, who governed the Al Ain region at the time.

Sheikh Khalifa was married to Her Highness Sheikha Shamsa bint Suhail Al Mazrouei; they have eight children: two sons and six daughters. Sheikh Khalifa was also a grandfather to several grandchildren.

Key figures who influenced Sheikh Khalifa

Sheikh Zayed was keen to take his eldest son on most of his daily activities and visits to the areas of Al Ain and Al Buraimi. The oases of Al Ain and Al Buraimi were places of vital economic significance for Abu Dhabi as the primary agricultural producer and as the critical strategic centre for the region's security.

Accompanying his father in his difficult task of improving the lives of the tribes of the area and establishing state authority, Sheikh Khalifa learned the essential values of responsibility, trust, justice and rights.

He was also fortunate to benefit from the education of public majlis, which was regarded as the finest school for teaching political leadership skills at that time.

The public majlis of his father brought him close to the tribes, allowing him to learn their culture, understand their aspirations, and acquire management and communication skills.

During the visits and at the majlis, Sheikh Khalifa saw his father's dedication to bringing prosperity and well-being to the tribes, maintaining their security and unity, caring for the environment, and preserving his people's heritage. He learned that a natural leader is wholly concerned with the welfare of his people.


The other thing that complemented his leadership skills was the majlis of his grandfather from his mother's side. His grandfather, Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa, was the senior figure of the Al Nahyan family at that time and was known for his wisdom.

Along with his mother's attention, Sheikh Khalifa also enjoyed special care and attention from his grandmother Sheikha Salama, who was respected for her sophistication, wisdom and perception.


SOURCE: Sheikh Khalifa's official website and

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