A statement released by Buckingham Palace said the 96-year-old monarch was “saddened” to hear the news of his death. His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan served as President of the United Arab Emirates for over 17 years.
He was also the ruler of Abu Dhabi and the supreme commander of the United Arab Emirates Armed Forces from 2004 to 2022.
A statement released by Buckingham Palace read: “I am saddened to hear of the death of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Abu Dhabi.”
The Queen paid tribute to His Highness for his service to his people and the work he had undertaken during his reign.
It said: “Your distinguished brother devoted his life to serving the people of the United Arab Emirates and his relationship with its allies and friends.
“He will be long remembered by all who work for regional stability, understanding between nations and between faiths, and for the conservation cause.”
The monarch also paid her condolences and expressed sympathy to those living in the Gulf state.
She signed off by saying: “I offer Your Highness my sincere condolences and I extend my sympathy to the people of the United Arab Emirates. ELIZABETH R.”
The 73-year-old’s death was confirmed by the UAE’s state media WAM who said he had “passed away to the Lord’s side” on Friday morning.
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WAM said: “The Ministry of Presidential Affairs mourn the people of the UAE, the Arab and Islamic nations, and the whole world.
“The leader of the nation and the patron of its march, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the State, passed away to the Lord’s side today, Friday, May 13.”
Later WAM tweeted noting that The Ministry of Presidential Affairs had announced an official mourning period.
They said: “Flags to be flown at half-mast for the late His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, may God have mercy on him, for a period of 40 days, starting today, and suspending work in ministries, departments, federal and local institutions, and the private sector for 3 days, starting today.”
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Sheikh Khalifa undertook a historic two-day visit to the UK in 2013, where he attended a state banquet at Windsor Castle hosted by the Queen.
The occasion marked the first time a UAE President had visited England in 24 years.
Prior to this, the last visit to the UK was taken by Sheikh Zayed, the Founding Father, who visited in 1989.
For the occasion, large UAE flags flew proudly alongside the UK’s Union flag at the Queen’s Windsor residence.
Dominic Jermey, the UK’s ambassador to Abu Dhabi at the time, wrote in The National that the visit solidified the countries’ bond.
He said: “The affinity between our two countries runs in each other’s DNA.”
Sheikh Khalifa was the eldest son of Sheikh Zayed, the first president and founder of the United Arab Emirates.
After suffering a stroke and having surgery in 2014, he mostly carried out a ceremonial role in the years following.
The day-to-day affairs were carried out by his brother and Abu Dhabi’s crown prince, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed.