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Last Updated: Thursday, 4 November, 2004, 13:34 GMT
UAE relieved at smooth succession
by Julia Wheeler
BBC Gulf correspondent in Dubai

Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed
Sheikh Khalifa was being groomed to succeed his father
Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed's swift election as president of the United Arab Emirates has received broad popular support.

He has succeeded his father, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan, the country's founder, who died on Tuesday.

Most Emiratis know little of their new leader but are grateful the leadership transition was smooth.

Sheikh Khalifa was chosen by the ruling sheikhs of the seven emirates soon after his father's funeral.

Although the new leader was being groomed to take over from his father, succession was never openly discussed.

There was no precedent, Sheikh Zayed being the country's first president.

Heir apparent

Inheritance by the eldest son is not a fixed tradition in the Gulf.

Sheikh Zayed himself was appointed Abu Dhabi ruler when his family, the ruling al-Nahyans, lost confidence in his older brother.

In recent years the sheikh made sure to map out the future of this tiny but wealthy country before he died.

Sheikh Khalifa became Abu Dhabi's prince in 1969 and has been learning the work of government alongside his father ever since.

Significantly, his half-brother, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, was within the last appointed deputy crown prince of Abu Dhabi.

This made Sheikh Mohammed heir apparent to the UAE presidency, seemingly bypassing his two sons.

Local newspapers were full of tributes and condolences for the late ruler, featuring full-page advertisements from government and private companies.

Son succeeds as UAE mourns leader
03 Nov 04 |  Middle East
Press mourns death of Gulf leader
03 Nov 04 |  Middle East
Obituary: Sheikh Zayed
02 Nov 04 |  Middle East
Timeline: United Arab Emirates
02 Nov 04 |  Country profiles


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