Introduction: Who Was Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan?
Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan(7 September 1948 – 13 May 2022) was the second president of the United Arab Emirates. He ruled over Abu Dhabi from November 2004 until his death in May 2022. Khalifa was born as the eldest son of Zayed bin Sultan bin Nahyan, the first president of the UAE. Working as the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, Khalifa performed some duties of the presidency on a de facto basis from the late 1990s itself. This had to be due to the poor health of his father. On the 2nd of November, 2004, he finally succeeded his father as the Emir of Abu Dhabi. The Federal Supreme Council elected him as the president of the UAE the next day.
As the president of the United Arab Emirates, Khalifa carried out several reformatory measures. He removed the image of orthodoxy from the UAE’s reputation. He also tried to give a modern and cosmopolitan character to Abu Dhabi. Under his reign, several cultural and academic centers felt confident to set up a base in Abu Dhabi. Thus, it was during his time that the Louvre Abu Dhabi, New York University Abu Dhabi, and Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi came to his country. Moreover, he also established Etihad Airways which has become a symbol of luxury travel all around the globe.
Aside from being President, Khalifa was also the chairman of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority. The ADIA is a proprietary body that deals with assets worth over $800 billion. His countrymen fondly remember him and revere him as a modernist who did much to improve the state of his country.
His Highness Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan was born on the 7th of September, 1948 at Qasr Al-Muwaiji, Al Ain. At the time, the territory was part of the Trucial States. He was the eldest son of Hassa bint Mohammed Al Nahyan and Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. Records show that he was a graduate of the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst.
He further married Her Highness Sheikha Shamsa bint Suhail Al Mazrouei, with whom he had eight children, namely: Sultan, Mohammed, Shamma, Salama, Osha, Sheikha, Lateefa and Mouza.
As Crown Prince
After his father became the Emir of Abu Dhabi in 1966, Khalifa became the Ruler’s Representative for the Eastern region of Abu Dhabi. He served in this role for some years before becoming the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi in 1969.
Khalifa also came to be the Head of the Abu Dhabi Department of Defence. He supervised the creation of the Abu Dhabi Defense Force. Later, it became the core of the UAE Armed Forces after 1971.
As Deputy Prime Minister
After the establishment of the United Arab Emirates in 1971, Khalifa assumed several key positions within the government and administration. He used to be the head of the Abu Dhabi Cabinet. After the Abu Dhabi Cabinet was replaced by the Abu Dhabi Executive Council, he found a post there as well as the 2nd Deputy Prime Minister of the UAE in 1973. He went on to be the Executive Chairman of the Executive Council of Abu Dhabi in 1974.
In 1976, Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan went on to become the deputy commander of the UAE Armed Forces. He also became the head of the Supreme Petroleum Council in the late 1980s. This was a post that gave him a wide berth and significant indirect authority. He also headed the Environmental Research and Wildlife Development Agency.
As President of the UAE
Khalifa became the President of the UAE, the day after he became the Emir of Abu Dhabi. As President, he brought in several reforms within the administration. He was a pro-Western modernizr who understood that his country needed to bring in foreign tourism to sustain itself in the future. Khalifa was a visionary who realized that depleting oil resources wouldn’t last long and his country needed secondary sources of income.
He was also an able diplomat who provided foreign aid and assistance to several countries over the world. This way, he helped to cement diplomatic relations with numerous countries and turned them into allies of the UAE.
The world remembers Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan for his pivotal role in developing the UAE and infusing modern reforms within society. Even though he has passed, his subjects still revere him highly and remember him lovingly. He was an able and strong ruler who led his country through a period of transition and into a new age.