DUBAI: United Arab Emirates (UAE) President Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan has died, state news agency WAM reported on Friday.
“The Ministry of Presidential Affairs condoles the people of the UAE, the Arab and Islamic nation and the world over the demise of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the president of the UAE,” a WAM statement read.
Following his demise, the UAE government announced three days of public holiday and 40 days of mourning. Born in 1948 to UAE's founding father Sheikh Zayed, Sheikh Khalifa started his official duties in 1966 and went on to rule the country from November 3, 2004, to date.
Sheikh Khalifa was the second president of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the 16th Ruler of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, the largest of the seven Emirates which comprise the UAE.
Sheikh Khalifa — whose full name is Khalifa bin Zayed bin Sultan bin Zayed bin Khalifa bin Shakhbout bin Theyab bin Issa bin Nahyan bin Falah bin Yas — was the eldest son of Sheikh Zayed.
Sheikh Khalifa is married to Sheikha Shamsa bint Suhail Al Mazrouei, and together they have eight children: two sons and six daughters — and he also has several grandchildren.
After his father's passing and his accession to the role of the UAE, Sheikh Khalifa launched an initiative to evolve the nomination system for members of the Federal National Council, which was seen as a first step towards the establishment of direct elections in the UAE.
Sheikh Khalifa was renowned for being a good listener, modest, affable and interested in his people, frequently conducting direct outreach through official missions and other occasions. As a result, he was much loved and revered.
The former president had many hobbies, including fishing and falconry, both pastimes he developed a love for from his father, the late Sheikh Zayed.
Meanwhile, the government of Pakistan decided to observe three-day national mourning from May 13-15 on the sad demise of UAE President Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan. The national flag of Pakistan shall fly at half-mast throughout the country, a notification said.
President Dr Arif Alvi expressed grief over the death of the President of the United Arab Emirates Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, remembering him as a great friend of Pakistan.
The president conveyed his condolences to the royal family and the people of the UAE, saying that the people of Pakistan shared their grief. He also praised the late UAE president for his services to the Muslim Ummah as well as Pakistan.
Today, Pakistan has become deprived of a great friend, President Alvi remarked. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said he was deeply grieved to hear about the death of Sheikh Khalifa.
"UAE has lost a visionary leader & Pakistan a great friend," the prime minister said. "We send our heartfelt condolences & sympathies to the government & people of the UAE. May Allah rest his soul in peace!" he added.
Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari expressed condolence over the death of the President of the United Arab Emirates Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
He prayed to Allah Almighty for peace of the departed soul. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the Royal family and the people of the UAE, the foreign minister remarked on Twitter.
Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa and all the ranks of the Pakistan Army expressed heartfelt condolence on the sad demise of the president of the UAE.
“Pakistan has lost a great friend. May Allah Almighty bless his soul & give strength to the bereaved family to bear this irreparable loss, Ameen,” the COAS added.
National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf expressed deep sorrow and grief over the sad demise of the president. He prayed to Allah to rest the departed soul in eternal peace and grant courage to the bereaved family and people of UAE to bear the irreparable loss with fortitude.
Aseefa Bhutto Zardari, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari's sister, expressed heartfelt condolences to the family of Sheikh Khalifa and to the people of UAE.
"I will always remember him for the friendship & kindness he showed to my family. A true friend of Pakistan, he always supported the country in its moment of need," Aseefa said. The people of Pakistan mourn his loss and share in the grief of our Emirati brothers and sisters, she added.
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Police, while quoting the initial investigation, ruled out the possibility of any criminal act behind the incident