UAE strongman Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed appointed as new president

  • Mohamed bin Zayed becomes president at a time of tension with the United States
  • He led the realignment process in the Middle East, and established relations with Israel
  • The UAE has also worked to deepen relations with Russia and China
  • Economic development is a driving priority for foreign policy

DUBAI (Reuters) – A Federal Supreme Council on Saturday elected the de facto leader of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, as president of the Gulf state, cementing his rule over the oil-producing Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and the main region in the region. player. Read more

He became president at a time when longstanding relations between the United Arab Emirates and the United States have been strained by a perceived U.S. disengagement from the security concerns of its Gulf allies, and as Western nations seek support from the region to help isolate Russia over the conflict in Ukraine.

The council, which includes the rulers of the seven emirates in the UAE federation, elected Sheikh Mohammed, known as Mohammed bin Zayed, a day after the death of his half-brother, President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, who was also the ruler of the emirate of Abu Dhabi.

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“We congratulate him and pledge allegiance to him as our people do,” said Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who is also the Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates.

Mohammed bin Zayed, 61, has wielded power behind the scenes for years and led a realignment of the Middle East that created a new anti-Iranian axis with Israel.

The UAE, a hub for trade and tourism, has also worked to deepen ties with Russia and China at a time when Washington’s political capital with Abu Dhabi and Riyadh has been eroded by disagreements over the Yemen war and Iran and the United States’ terms on arms sales.

“Mohammed bin Zayed not only set the future course for the UAE but for many Gulf states in his approach to nation building and projecting power,” said Kristin Diwan, a senior resident scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington.

“The future direction under his leadership is defined and reflected in other Gulf leaders’ adoption of state-led and globally oriented economic diversification.”

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The Biden administration has moved to mend relations with the two oil heavyweights of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Both have refused to take sides in the Russian-Ukrainian conflict and have rejected Western calls for more oil to help tame crude prices. Read more

President Joe Biden said in a statement Saturday that he looks forward to working with Sheikh Mohammed “to build from this extraordinary foundation to further strengthen the bonds between our countries and our peoples.”

Press Secretary Kirsten Allen said Vice President Kamala Harris will lead a US delegation in the UAE on Monday to offer condolences on the death of Khalifa and will meet bin Zayed.

French President Emmanuel Macron, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Israeli President Isaac Herzog are scheduled to arrive on Sunday. Read more S8N2S7032

Emirati political expert Abu Al-Khaleq Abdullah told Reuters that bin Zayed, as president, will not lead the UAE to separate from the United States or other Western partners, although he will diversify the country’s international partners.

Bin Zayed has moved away from the hard-line foreign policy and military adventurism, which prompted the UAE to engage in conflicts from Yemen to Libya, to focus on economic priorities. This has led to the UAE’s dealings with its rivals Iran and Turkey after years of hostility, as well as with the Syrian president.

“Mohammed bin Zayed will need to take further steps to strengthen the UAE’s position as the region’s leading financial, logistical and commercial hub,” James Swanston of Capital Economics said in a note, referring to the Gulf states’ drive to diversify economies amid global energy. Moving away from hydrocarbons.

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(Report) By Ines El-Ashry, Lisa Barrington, Said Azhar, Alexander Cornwell, Steve Holland, and Ari Rabinovitch; Written by Ghaida Ghantous. Editing by Kirsten Donovan and Christina Fincher

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.