The United Arab Emirates’ de facto leader Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed al Nahyan has been elected as the country’s new president by a federal supreme council.
He will take over from his half-brother President Khalifa bin Zayed al Nahyan, who died on Friday aged 73.
Rulers of the nation’s seven sheikhdoms, including Dubai, backed Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed unanimously in a vote, according to the state-run WAM news agency.
Following the vote, Dubai’s prime minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, tweeted: “We congratulate him and we pledge allegiance to him, and our people pledge allegiance to him.
“The whole country is led by him to take it on the paths of glory and honour, God willing.”
Often referred to as MBZ, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, 61, was named the most powerful Arab leader and one of the most powerful men on Earth by the New York Times in 2019.
He had been serving as the UAE’s de facto president since a stroke in 2014 saw his half-brother Sheikh Khalifa disappear from public view.
Under his leadership, the UAE took on a more military-focused approach in the region, joining Saudi Arabia in their years-long war in Yemen.
He also featured in Time Magazine’s Top 100 Most Influential People of 2019.
Following his brother’s death, Sheikh Mohammed said: “The UAE has lost its righteous son and leader of the ’empowerment phase’ and guardian of its blessed journey.”
Sheikh Mohamed established UAE as a global military superpower
The new ruler graduated from Britain’s Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in 1979.
He has since gone on to command one of the most high-tech armies in the Gulf region.
Along with its oil wealth and business hub status, Sheikh Mohamed has established the UAE as a global military superpower.
During this time, his half-brother Sheikh Khalifa suffered bouts of illness.
The Al Nahyan family is believed to have a fortune of £150bn.
The UAE is currently observing a three-day mourning period, which will see businesses shut across the country and performances halted in Sheikh Khalifa’s honour.
Electronic billboards all showed the late sheikh’s image in Dubai last night as flags flew at half-mast.