Sheikh Mohammed Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan succeeds his late half-brother, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
Rulers in the United Arab Emirates on Saturday unanimously appointed Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Mohammed Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan as the autocratic nation’s President, signaling both unity and stability in this key energy-rich country that hosts Western militaries.
The ascension of Sheikh Mohammed, 61, had been expected after the death of his half-brother and the UAE’s President, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, at the age of 73. The transition of power marks only the third time this U.S.-allied nation of seven sheikhdoms has selected a President since becoming an independent nation in 1971.
Under Sheikh Mohammed, who has been the nation’s de facto leader since Sheikh Khalifa suffered a stroke in 2014, the UAE had tried to project power militarily across the wider region as it joined a Saudi-led war in Yemen.
The UAE also diplomatically recognized Israel, which shares Sheikh Mohammed’s longstanding suspicion of Iran. However, ties to the U.S. have strained in recent years — something Washington hopes to address with Vice President Kamala Harris leading a delegation Monday to Abu Dhabi.