UAE Visionary Leader, Gulf Unity Champion

Saudi Gazette report

ABU DHABI – Sheikh Khalifa was a visionary leader and statesman, whose passing has created a great void in the Gulf and Middle East region. His modernization policies were instrumental in transforming the UAE into a regional power.

His contributions have also been remarkable in closing ranks and achieving societal cohesion and economic integration of the six member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). He has always been at the forefront of efforts to further strengthen unity and integrity among GCC member states.

Khalifa was born on September 7, 1948, in Qasr Al-Muwaiji, Al-Ain, Abu Dhabi, as the eldest son of Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al-Nahyan and Hassa Bint Mohammed Bin Khalifa Al-Nahyan. He was a graduate of the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst. When his father Sheikh Zayed became ruler of Abu Dhabi in 1966, Khalifa was appointed as the ruler’s representative or mayor of the eastern region of Abu Dhabi and head of the Al Ain Courts Department. Later he became the ruler of Abu Dhabi.

On February 1, 1969, Khalifa was named Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, and the next day he was appointed as the head of the Abu Dhabi Department of Defense. In this position, he oversaw the building up of the Abu Dhabi Defense Force, which after 1971 became the core of the United Arab Emirates Armed Forces.

After the creation of the United Arab Emirates in 1971, Khalifa held several positions in Abu Dhabi, such as Prime Minister, Minister of Defense and Minister of Finance. After the reconstruction of the Cabinet of the United Arab Emirates, the Cabinet of Abu Dhabi was replaced by the Executive Council of Abu Dhabi, and Khalifa became the second Deputy Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates on December 23, 1973 and the President of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council on Jan 20 October 1974 under Sheikh Zayed.

In May 1976, he became Deputy Commander of the United Arab Emirates Armed Forces, under the leadership of the President. He also became the head of the Supreme Petroleum Council in the late 1980s and held that position until his death. This position gave it broad powers in energy matters, with the council being the supreme body for formulating national oil policy. He was also president of the Environmental Research and Wildlife Development Agency.

As Chairman, he led one of the largest investment funds in the world, the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, managing hundreds of billions of dollars in assets. Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, is named after him. He also backed the acquisition of English Premier League football club Manchester City.

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