This file handout photo, released by the Saudi Royal Palace on May 31, 2019, shows the UAE’s Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan during a meeting in the Saudi holy city of Mecca; he became the UAE president after the death of his half-brother – Copyright AFP/File Noel Celis
US President Joe Biden congratulated the UAE’s de facto ruler Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan on being elected Saturday as the country’s president following his half-brother’s death.
“I congratulate my long-time friend Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan on his election as president of the United Arab Emirates,” Biden said in a statement, adding that he looked forward to working with the leader “to further strengthen the bonds between our countries and peoples.”
US Vice President Kamala Harris will travel to the UAE on Monday to lead a presidential delegation “and offer condolences on behalf of the Biden-Harris administration and the American people” on the death of the previous president, Sheikh Khalifa, her office said in a statement Saturday.
In Abu Dhabi, Harris will meet with Sheikh Mohamed and “underscore the strength of the partnership between our countries and our desire to further deepen our ties in the coming months and years,” the statement said.
The 61-year-old Sheikh Mohamed, a trained soldier, has long been a quiet power behind the throne of Abu Dhabi, analysts say.
He took a leading role after Sheikh Khalifa, his half-brother, retreated from public view in 2014, when he had surgery after a stroke.
Following Sheikh Khalifa’s death Friday, Sheikh Mohamed was unanimously elected by the Federal Supreme Council, comprising rulers of the UAE’s seven emirates. He has also been named as ruler of Abu Dhabi, which controls most of the country’s oil wealth.