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UAE president Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed dies at 73

Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan served as the president of the UAE and ruler of Abu Dhabi since 2004
Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahyan listens to closing remarks during the closing ceremony of a GCC summit in Kuwait on 15 December, 2009 (Reuters)

United Arab Emirates President Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan has died at the age of 73, state news agency WAM reported on Friday.

Sheikh Khalifa served as the president of the UAE and ruler of Abu Dhabi since November 2004.

“The Ministry of Presidential Affairs condoles the people of the UAE, the Arab and Islamic nation and the world over the demise of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the president of the UAE,” a WAM statement read.

The UAE ruler had become increasingly elusive after suffering a stroke in 2014, largely leaving the running of the UAE to his brother, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed.

The Ministry of Presidential Affairs announced 40 days of mourning in the wake of the ruler's death.

Sheikh Khalifa won plaudits for steering his country through the 2008 financial crisis and overseeing the rapid development of the country's economy.

Condolences came in from a number of other regional rulers, including the rulers of Bahrain, Iraq, Jordan and Egypt.

"We have lost a dear brother and an outstanding leader who inherited wisdom from his late great father Sheikh Zayed and dedicated his life to serving his country and the Arab and Islamic nations," tweeted King Abdullah of Jordan.

"We offer our condolences to our people in the UAE for this great loss, and we pray to God to have mercy on him."