Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates, has nominated his eldest son Sheikh Khaled as Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, the Gulf state’s oil-rich capital, and designated his brothers to prominent positions, state media said on Wednesday.
Prince Mohammed appointed his brother Sheikh Mansour as UAE vice president, alongside Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, after serving as president and ruler of the US-allied OPEC oil exporter for years.
This appeared to further centralize authority in Abu Dhabi, which is the political capital of the UAE federation of seven emirates due to its enormous oil resources. Dubai is the business and tourism capital of the Gulf.
Prince Mohammed also named his other brothers as deputy rulers of Abu Dhabi: Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the UAE’s national security adviser who also owns a vast commercial empire, and Hazza bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
He maintained “some power-sharing balance, but only within (Abu Dhabi’s) Al Nahyan dynasty,” Cinzia Bianco, research fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, remarked on Twitter.
The selection of Sheikh Khaled as crown prince mirrors a trend in most Gulf Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia, toward direct lineage – sons over brothers – for succession.
Since Sheikh Mohammed’s father founded the UAE federation in 1971, Abu Dhabi has held the presidency. Analysts say Sheikh Mohammed, often known as MbZ, had been training his son for positions of leadership in security – including intelligence – the economy, and governance.
MbZ was de facto ruler for years before taking power following his brother’s death last May, at a time when the UAE’s long-standing ties with the US were strained due to perceived US disengagement from the area.
He oversaw a Middle East realignment when the UAE, along with Bahrain, formed links with Israel in 2020 to form a new anti-Iran axis in the region, while still working with Tehran to calm tensions with an eye on economic objectives.
The UAE has also strengthened relations with Russia and China. The little country of less than 10 million people takes pride in its political and economic stability. It boasts one of the greatest per capita income levels in the world and is home to millions of expatriate workers, who make up the majority of the workforce.
MbZ nominated Sheikh Khaled as president of Abu Dhabi’s executive council in a separate decree on Wednesday, the latest upheaval at major entities in the emirate, one of the world’s wealthiest state investors.
Sheikh Tahnoun was appointed chair of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, one of the world’s largest sovereign wealth funds, earlier this month. Mubadala, Abu Dhabi’s second-largest sovereign wealth fund, has appointed Sheikh Mansour as its chairman.
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