UK PM, US VP, Indian VP and others to visit the Emirates to condole demise of Sheikh Khalifa
The mood across the UAE is somber as the residents of the Emirates mourn the demise of Sheikh Khalifa while the UAE flag has been half-mast, all the cultural and entertainment programs postponed and the radio off air.
Sheikh Khalifa was laid to rest on Friday evening at the Al Bateen cemetery. The new President of the UAE and Ruler of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, led family members and other leaders in prayer. Absentee funeral prayers were held in mosques across the UAE and in various countries worldwide.
Condolence messages were displayed on electronic signboards across the country. The iconic Museum of the Future switched off its lights. The UAE Ministry of Presidential Affairs announced a 40-day mourning period across the country with all federal and local government departments, ministries, and private firms suspending operations for three days.
“The general feeling I have been having is of somberness,” said Munezza Siddiqui, who has lived in the UAE all her life. “Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan has been at the helm for so many years now, and the country has seen so much progress under him, including the Mars probe, the numerous real estate developments all across UAE and the way the country dealt with Covid pandemic, just to mention a few.” “It’s a reminder to be grateful for every single minute of every single day. I hope that people will take time to reflect on these things and remember what a great leader he was.”
Several shops across the country remained shut. The shops that were open said the day felt very different. “We are some of the only shops open here,” said Suresh Babu, manager at Zaiba Jewelers in Dubai Gold Souq.
“The Dubai Jewellery Group didn’t make any recommendations for retail stores, so we opened. The mood is all around sombre in an otherwise bustling area. We all mourn the loss of a great leader.”
Sharjah Municipality earlier announced the closure of all its public and neighbourhood parks for three days. Schools across the country will also remain closed and resume on Tuesday, May 17.
Facts Sheikh Khalifa
Sheikh Khalifa was the second president of the United Arab Emirates and the 16th Ruler of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. Born on September 7, 1948, at the Al Muwaiji Fort in Al Ain, Sheikh Khalifa was 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.
British PM to visit UAE to pay respects to late Sheikh Khalifa
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will travel to the United Arab Emirates on May 15 to offer his condolences following the death of Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
The Prime Minister issued a statement on Friday on the news of Sheikh Khalifa’s passing.
“I am deeply 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. He was a wise and respected leader who will be missed enormously,” the statement read.
“Through his work as President and Sheikh, he has made a personal contribution to regional stability and conservation, which will long be remembered. I know that the long and deep ties, which unite our countries, will continue, and through our cooperation and friendship, we can ensure peace, prosperity and justice in the world.”
“I would like to offer my sincere condolences to the people of the United Arab Emirates.”
Johnson’s visit also aims to reinforce the close bond between the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates, which will continue under the Presidency of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
US VP Harris to lead delegation to UAE to offer condolences
US Vice President Kamala Harris will lead a delegation to the UAE on May 16 to offer condolences on the passing of Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
An official statement from White House Press Secretary Kirsten Allen said Harris would meet the new President of the UAE, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, to pay respects to the late leader “on behalf of the Biden-Harris Administration and the American people.”
“In addition to honouring the memory and the legacy of Sheikh Khalifa, the Vice President will 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 read.
US President Joe Biden had, in an earlier statement, said, “As I told Sheikh Mohamed yesterday during our phone call, the United States is determined to honour the memory of the late President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan by continuing to strengthen the strategic partnership between our countries over the coming months and years. The UAE is an essential partner of the United States.”
India VP to visit UAE to offer condolences
The Vice President of India, M Venkaiah Naidu, will be visiting UAE on May 15 to offer condolences on behalf of the Government of India to the UAE leadership following the passing of Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
A statement from the Ministry of External Affairs confirmed Naidu’s visit to the UAE.
On Saturday, Dr S Jaishankar, Minister of External Affairs, visited the UAE Embassy in New Delhi to convey India’s condolences. India also declared a day of national mourning on May 14 following Sheikh Khalifa’s demise.
Indian President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi had expressed condolences on social media channels.
The Ministry statement said under Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, India-UAE ties prospered greatly to the mutual benefit of the people of the two countries.