Explained: Who is Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed? The new UAE President
Abu Dhabi, May 14: The UAE's long-time de facto ruler Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan was elected as president on Saturday, official media said, a day after the death of former leader Sheikh Khalifa. He becomes the third president in the country's history following the death of Sheikh Khalifa on Friday.
Who is Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed?
Born on 11 March 1961, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan colloquially known by his initials as MBZ, is the President of the United Arab Emirates, Ruler of Abu Dhabi and Supreme Commander of the United Arab Emirates Armed Forces.
He is the third son of Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the first President of the United Arab Emirates and ruler of Abu Dhabi, and his third wife, Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Al Ketbi.
Mohamed's brothers are: Hamdan, Hazza, Saeed, Isa, Nahyan, Saif, Tahnoun, Mansour, Falah, Diab, Omar, and Khalid (as well as four deceased brothers; Khalifa bin Zayed, Sultan, Nasser, and Ahmed). In addition to these, he has a few sisters. He has five younger full-brothers: Hamdan, Hazza, Tahnoun, Mansour, and Abdullah. They are referred to as Bani Fatima or sons of Fatima.
Early days, working in the military
Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan was educated at schools in Al Ain and Abu Dhabi until the age of 18. In 1979, he joined the prestigious Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, where he trained in armour, helicopter flying, tactical flying and paratroops. After graduating in April 1979, he returned home to the UAE to join the Officers' Training Course in Sharjah, another Emirate of the UAE.
He has held a number of roles in the UAE military, from that of Officer in the Amiri Guard (the UAE's elite security force) and Pilot in the UAE Air Force, to his current role as Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.
Guided by the directives of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan and President HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, HH Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed helped develop the UAE Armed Forces in terms of strategic planning, training, organizational structure and promoting defense capabilities. Sheikh Mohamed's direct guidance and leadership, led the UAE Armed Forces to become a leading institution that is widely admired by many international military organisations.
Sheikh Mohamed also holds a number of political and economic roles at an Emirate level and a wider Federal level in the UAE.
Personal interests, passion
Among his many interests, he is known for his unwavering commitment to enhance educational standards in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and raise them to be on par with the best international standards. Since Sheikh Mohamed took on the Chairmanship of the Abu Dhabi Education Council he has worked tirelessly to forge partnerships with prestigious world-class educational institutions and think-tanks, a number of which have subsequently announced plans to either establish a base in or join strategic joint ventures with existing academic establishments, under the direction of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed, the President of UAE and the Ruler of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.
He is seen as the driving force behind the UAE's interventionist foreign policy and is a leader of a campaign against Islamist movements in the Arab world.
Crown prince of Abu Dhabi
In November 2003, his father Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan appointed Sheikh Mohamed as Deputy Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi. Upon the death of his father, Sheikh Mohamed became Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi in November 2004 and was appointed Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces in January 2005.
Later that month, he was promoted to the rank of General. Since December 2004 he has also been the Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council, which is responsible for the development and planning of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and is a member of the Supreme Petroleum Council.
He also serves as a special adviser to the President of the UAE, Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, his older brother.
As a result of the ill health of his brother, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, who was the President of the UAE, Al Nahyan became the de facto ruler of Abu Dhabi and was responsible for welcoming foreign dignitaries in the capital district of the United Arab Emirates in the city of Abu Dhabi.
In January 2014, when his half-brother Khalifa, the president of the UAE and Sheikh of Abu Dhabi, suffered a stroke, Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan became the de facto ruler of Abu Dhabi, controlling almost every aspect of UAE policymaking.
Mohamed bin Zayed was entrusted with most day-to-day decision making of the emirate of Abu Dhabi as the crown prince of Abu Dhabi.
Academics have characterized Mohamed bin Zayed as the strongman leader of an authoritarian regime.
In 2019, the New York Times named him as the most powerful Arab ruler and one of the most powerful men on Earth.
He was also named as one of the 100 Most Influential People of 2019 by TIME magazine.
Place named after him
In April 2021, the Jakarta-Cikampek Elevated Toll Road in Indonesia was renamed as Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Skyway (Jalan Layang Mohamed bin Zayed), at the behest of the Indonesian President's secretary.