The second president of the UAE Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan passed away on Friday. He was aged 73. The Ministry of Presidential Affairs confirmed the news and condoled the passing of the Abu Dhabi ruler. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed is said to have been battling illness for several years. 

"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.

UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed passes away
UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed passes away

Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed was serving as the president of UAE since November 3, 2004, after he was elected to succeed his father Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who was UAE's first president since the union in 1971.

The ministry has announced 40 days of mourning and a three-day work suspension in all ministries and the private sector starting Friday. All flags will also be flown at half-staff.

While no official announcement has been made on the succession, Abu Dhabi's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed is seen as the de-facto ruler. However, vice president and premier Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, ruler of Dubai, will be the acting president until the federal council elects a new president.

Who was Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed?

Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed was born in 1948. He was the 16th ruler of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. He was the eldest son of Sheikh Zayed.

During his reign, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed is credited with accelerated development and launching strategic plan for the UAE government to achieve sustainable development in the kingdom with focus on its citizens. He also developed the oil and gas sector, which contributed to the country's economic diversification.