UAE President MBZ meets Macron; world leaders offer condolences

Heads of state arrive in the United Arab Emirates following the death of former leader Sheikh Khalifa and to meet new President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

The UAE’s new President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan met with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron as other world leaders continue to arrive in Abu Dhabi to pay tribute to his late brother, the former ruler.

Macron, who was re-elected this month, expressed his condolences to Sheikh Mohammed following the death of his half-brother Sheikh Khalifa, who died on Friday following a long illness.

Several Arab leaders including Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi came on Saturday to pay respects. Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, whose father King Salman entered hospital a week ago, sent a delegation.

The president of Israel, Isaac Herzog, was also due in the United Arab Emirates on Sunday, as was Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

A handout image provided by the UAE Ministry of Presidential Affairs shows Jordan's King Abdullah II (L) offering his condolences to Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan (R)
Jordan’s King Abdullah II, left, offers condolences to Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan [Mohamed al-Hammadi/Ministry of Presidential Affairs via AFP]

United States President Joe Biden, whose administration has had fraught ties with the UAE and Saudi Arabia, will be represented by Vice President Kamila Harris, due to visit on Monday.

Sheikh Mohammed, the UAE’s longtime de facto ruler during Sheikh Khalifa’s illness, was chosen to lead the desert state in a unanimous vote by leaders of the country’s seven emirates on Saturday.

Often known by his initials MBZ, he took a leading role after Sheikh Khalifa retreated from public view in 2014 when he had surgery after a stroke. The cause of his death was not announced.

Both Macron and Johnson are making their second visits to Abu Dhabi in recent months. Johnson’s visit in March failed to convince the UAE and Saudi Arabia to pump more oil after Russia’s war in Ukraine sent markets into turmoil.

UAE relations with the United States have become strained under Biden, with the two sides at odds over Abu Dhabi’s close ties with Russia and Washington’s reopening of nuclear talks with Iran, long accused by Gulf states of creating regional chaos.

The wealthy UAE has emerged as a leader of a reshaped Middle East, forging ties with Israel and joining a Saudi-led war against Iran-backed rebels in Yemen.

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