DUBAI, United Arab Emirates ( Associated Press) – A group of presidents and prime ministers from around the world descended on the United Arab Emirates on Sunday to pay tribute to the federation’s late ruler. They also came to admire his successor, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan – a vivid sign of Abu Dhabi’s influence in western and Arab capitals.
The first Western leader to jet to the oil-rich emirate was French President Emmanuel Macron. He met Sheikh Mohammed on Sunday to pay tribute to Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al NahyanThe long-ailing ruler, who died Friday at the age of 73, was presiding over a rapid transformation into the country’s global trade hub and regional power centre.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was expected to arrive later on Sunday to offer condolences, along with other leaders including Israel’s president, after the two countries opened formal ties in 2020.
A US delegation led by Vice President Kamala Harris is due to visit the United Arab Emirates on Monday, in a bid to defuse tensions and show support as relations between the countries strained under President Joe Biden.
Macron wrote on Sheikh Khalifa’s Twitter, “he was respected for his values of peace, openness and dialogue”, “full support” for the elevation of his half-brother Sheikh Mohammed after being unanimously appointed by rulers in the federation expressed. him as president,
As Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohamed has served as the country’s de facto leader since Sheikh Khalifa suffered a heart attack in 2014. He has turned the tiny United Arab Emirates – population 10 million – into the most influential state ever. With Abu Dhabi’s petrodollars and a substantial army, along with major Dubai firms and lucrative hotels, the UAE has come to wield external power in the Middle East and Africa.
Even as the country was embroiled in a bloody, years-long conflict in Yemen and a chaotic proxy war in Libya, it positioned itself as a sensible and reliable partner in western capitals.
Paris and Abu Dhabi have become increasingly aligned in recent years, sharing a deep distrust of Islamic movements such as the Muslim Brotherhood across the region, including Turkey and Libya.
France opened a major overseas naval base in Abu Dhabi. French warplanes and personnel are also stationed at a facility outside the emirate’s capital. The two governments jointly built a gleaming branch of the Louvre Museum in the Emirates.
During Macron’s visit to Dubai last December, France received its largest overseas order with the United Arab Emirates for its Rafale fighter jets – an $18 billion deal that came as a planned US sale of the upgraded F-35 fighter jet to the United Arab Emirates fueled US concerns about the emirate’s relationship with China stopped because of
There was a clear display of Sheikh Mohammed’s outspoken foreign policy in the Arab world as Allied leaders arrived in the capital on Saturday to express grief over the death of Sheikh Khalifa and congratulated Sheikh Mohammed on his formal rise to power.
First was Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the Egyptian general who overthrew an elected but divisive Islamic government in 2013 with Gulf Arab support.
Emirate-backed Tunisian President Kais Saied, who has wielded near-absolute power in the country since sacking the prime minister last year, also arrived with Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Iraq’s president and prime minister to pay tribute.
Sudan’s Abdel-Fattah Burhan, the general who led the coup In the past year, the strategic East African nation has seen frequent visits to a key supporter of Sheikh Mohamed. On Saturday, he posted footage on social media of him running up the stairs to board his plane to Abu Dhabi in honor of the late Emirate’s president.
The UAE’s recent deal to normalize relations with Israel, born out of mutual animosity for Iran, is also a sign of Sheikh Mohammed’s quietly assertive foreign policy. Before Israel’s largely ceremonial President Isaac Herzog flew to Abu Dhabi on Sunday, he expressed his gratitude to the emirate’s leaders.
“Partnership between our countries is an asset to us and to the region as a whole and has been built and is still being built by bold and groundbreaking leaders,” he said.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia’s upstart Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has had close ties with Sheikh Mohammed, offered his condolences over the phone.