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Khaled bin Mohamed: Abu Dhabi’s new crown prince and likely future Emirati president

Mohammed bin Zayed's eldest son - who has held positions across governance, energy and security - becomes UAE's heir apparent
Khaled bin Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan during a ceremony marking the second anniversary of Abu Dhabi's Louvre museum on 11 November 2019 (AFP)
Khaled bin Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan during a ceremony marking the second anniversary of Abu Dhabi's Louvre museum on 11 November 2019 (AFP)

Khaled bin Mohamed bin Zayed was named on Wednesday as the new crown prince of Abu Dhabi. 

The announcement was made by his father, UAE President Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, after approval from the federal supreme council, the country’s highest legislative body, which rulers from all seven emirates sit on.

The decision means that Khaled is most likely to succeed his father as president, placing him ahead of more senior Emirati royals, including several of Mohammed bin Zayed’s brothers. 

Khaled bin Mohamed was born in Abu Dhabi on 8 January 1982 and is the eldest son of the current president and his wife Salama bint Hamdan. 

The new crown prince earned a BSc in international relations at the American University of Sharjah, before completing a PhD from the department of war studies at King’s College London, in 2014. 

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Since then, he has held a number of prominent roles across Emirati institutions. 

In 2016, he was appointed to be the country’s head of national security and became deputy national security advisor the following year.

Both roles gave him the rank of a government minister. 

The 41-year-old has also held other influential governance positions, including as chairman of Abu Dhabi’s executive office and as a member of its executive council, the emirate government’s supervisory body.

In his new role as crown prince, he will also head up the latter. 

Khaled bin Mohammed is also chair of the board of directors at Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc), one of the world’s largest oil companies by production. 

In that role, he launched renewable energy and green hydrogen initiatives, as part of the UAE’s pivot towards sustainable energy. 

The country will host the UN climate change conference, Cop28 later this year, with Adnoc chief Sultan Ahmed al-Jaber as its new president - a decision that was condemned by climate change activists. 

Generational shift in succession

In 2021, Khaled bin Mohammed was named in the Pandora Papers, a massive data leak revealing the questionable financial dealings of world leaders and business tycoons.

The leak showed that the new crown prince was a business partner in an offshore investment deal with Singapore billionaire Ong Beng Seng and Emirati billionaire Ali Saeed Juma Albwardy, according to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. 

The crown prince is also a key driving force behind the UAE’s efforts to promote and host international sports, according to Khaleej Times.

He oversaw an agreement that will see Abu Dhabi host the first National Basketball Association (NBA) games in the Gulf.

He has also sought to make Abu Dhabi a global capital in martial arts and Jiu-Jitsu - the latter of which he is a practitioner himself. 

His elevation to crown prince - instead of one of Mohamed bin Zayed’s brothers - marks a generational shift in succession that has also been seen in Saudi Arabia, where Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has consolidated power. 

Zayed has led the country since May last year after his half-brother Khalifa bin Zayed died at the age of 73.

The president’s brothers include Manchester City owner Mansour bin Zayed, who on Wednesday was promoted to vice president of the UAE, a role he will share with Dubai ruler Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum. 

Tahnoun bin Zayed and Hazza bin Zayed, two other brothers, were also named deputy rulers of Abu Dhabi as part of the shake-up. 

Tahnoun, Hazza, Mansour, and MBZ are four of six brothers known as the Bani Fatima, born to Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, founder of the UAE, and his third wife, Sheikha Fatima.

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