United in grief - GulfToday

United in grief

Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan

Gulf Today, Staff Reporter

The UAE and the world mourn the loss of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan who passed away on May 13

His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who passed away on Friday, was a man of integrity and memorable statesmanship. He believed in the industrial-strength unity of the country, was a staunch supporter of the Gulf Cooperation Council, and was a shining beacon of humanitarian projects across the world.

Sheikh Khalifa will be remembered for his drive to take the development of the country to remarkable lengths. He died at the age of 73. He came to power in 2004 in Abu Dhabi and became the head of state.

Sheikh Khalifa was born in Al Muwaiji Fort in Al Ain in 1948. His full name is Khalifa Bin Zayed Bin Sultan Bin Zayed Bin Khalifa Bin Shakhbout Bin Theyab Bin Issa Bin Nahyan Bin Falah Bin Yas.

He is the eldest son of the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan. His mother is Sheikha Hessa Bint Mohammed Bin Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan. 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.

Sheikh Khalifa belongs to the tribe of Bani Yas. Bani Yas is considered the mother tribe for most of the Arab tribes that settled in what is known today as the UAE, which is historically known as “Bani Yas Alliance.”

Sheikh Khalifa lived with his family at Al Muwaiji Fort in Al Ain city. He received his school education in Al Ain at the city’s first school built by his father.

Formative years

Sheikh Zayed was keen to take his eldest son on most of his daily activities and visits in Al Ain. He was also fortunate to have the benefit of the education of public majlis.

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, he enjoyed special care and attention from his grandmother Sheikha Salama, who was respected for her sophistication, wisdom and perception.

Journey of Governance

When Sheikh Zayed moved to Abu Dhabi city to become the Ruler of the Emirate in August 1966, he appointed Sheikh Khalifa — who was 18 at that time — as his representative in the Eastern Province and the President of its legal system. This delegation of authority was seen as a mark of the high confidence Sheikh Zayed had in his son.

His notable success in Al Ain was the beginning of a long career in public service that saw Sheikh Khalifa assume his leadership role with ease and skill, marking major accomplishments and achievements.

On Jan.20, 1974, he was appointed as the first Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council, which replaced the emirate’s local cabinet.

The Executive Council oversaw the realisation of extensive development programmes in Abu Dhabi, including the construction of housing, water supply system, roads and general infrastructure that led to the emergence of the city of Abu Dhabi into the modern city that it is today.

He was elected to the presidency on Nov.3, 2004 after the death of his father, Sheikh Zayed who passed away on Nov.2, 2004.

Authority and Development

Sheikh Khalifa has also been involved extensively in other areas of the country’s development. In May 1976, following the unification of the armed forces of the emirates, he was nominated as Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.

In this capacity, he devoted much attention to the building up of the country’s defensive capability; thus, he established military training institutions and procured the latest military equipment and facilities.

In 1991, he created the Private Loans Authority to ensure that citizens were able to build the properties they needed.

Re-election as the President

Re-elected as President in 2009, Sheikh Khalifa pledged to continue with implementing the ambitious strategies for political, administrative, economic, social and cultural development that he had started in his first term. His stewardship and focus on good governance and the integrity of the Federation have proved a blessing in times of financial and regional turmoil.

Foreign Policy

Sheikh Khalifa ensured that the country pursued an active foreign policy. Sheikh Khalifa is a strong supporter of the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). He believes that the success and achievements of this body reflect the depth of understanding reached amongst its leaders.

Sheikh Khalifa has demonstrated his commitment to build relations with other countries by receiving leaders from countries in Asia, Europe and from other Arab countries.

His Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Foundation, the third most significant donor of UAE foreign aid, makes an enormous difference to people’s lives in over 70 countries around the world. He has proved to be a generous donor of emergency assistance in times of natural disasters, responding immediately by sending help after events such as the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and the 2005 earthquake that devastated much of northern Pakistan and neighbouring parts of India.

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