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UAE: Mohammed bin Zayed officially named new president

Longtime de facto ruler of the Gulf state unanimously elected by the federal council following the death of his half-brother
Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan (centre), and Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum attending a meeting on 14 May 2022 (AFP)

Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan became the ruler of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Saturday after being elected president following the death of his half-brother, long-time ruler Khalifa bin Zayed, the previous day, official media has reported.

Zayed was unanimously voted in by the Federal Supreme Council, the official news agency Emirates News Agency (WAM) said, becoming the new ruler of the oil-rich country founded by his father in 1971.

The council, made up of rulers of the UAE's seven emirates, met with Zayed and elected him on Saturday as the country enters a period of mourning for his half-brother Khalifa bin Zayed, who died aged 73 after serving as UAE president and ruler of Abu Dhabi since November 2004.

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Khalifa bin Zayed had become increasingly reclusive since suffering a stroke in 2014, largely leaving the running of the UAE to his brother.

The former Abu Dhabi crown prince's ascension, which was widely expected, formalises his position as leader of the country of 10 million people.

Under his low-key direction, the UAE has put a man in space, sent a probe to Mars, and opened its first nuclear reactor, while using revenues from oil exports to develop a more assertive foreign policy.

Zayed has also led efforts to crackdown on pro-democracy movements in the region in the wake of the 2011 Arab mass protests.

He supported the coup that overthrew democratically elected Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi in 2013 and sent troops to help quell pro-democracy protests in Bahrain in 2011.

Closely allied with Saudi Arabia, the UAE is now regarded as a leader in the reshaped Middle East that has emerged as traditional powers retreated and the United States reduces its involvement. Zayed has forged ties with Israel, and the UAE has joined the war against Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen.