About His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan
His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan was elected President of the UAE by the Supreme Council on November 3, 2004. Following the principles of leadership laid down by his father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, HH Sheikh Khalifa maintains close links with the Emirati people and strongly promotes solidarity between the Arab states. His focus on the development of the country’s citizens is reflected in the UAE’s continuous programmes to create economic diversification and sustainability, as well as numerous aid initiatives. His Highness has extensive experience in running the Emirate of Abu Dhabi’s affairs as he headed its local cabinet and its Department of Defence.
1948-2004: Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi
HH Sheikh Khalifa was born in Al Muwaiji Fort, Al Ain, in 1948, and spent most of his childhood in the oases of Al Ain and Al Buraimi. Sheikh Zayed, who governed the Al Ain region at that time, was constantly on journeys to the remote tribes of the Eastern Region, maintaining a very close personal relationship with the people and their needs. Accompanying his father in his difficult task to improve the lives of the tribes of the area and establish state authority, HH Sheikh Khalifa learned essential values of responsibility, trust, justice and right in the public majalis of his father and grandfather. He received his school education in Al Ain, at the city’s first school, built by his father.
Looking back on his education, HH Sheikh Khalifa especially acknowledged how the closeness to his charismatic father trained and influenced him in a way no school education could do: “My father is my teacher. I learn something from him every day, follow his path and absorb from him his values, and the need for patience and prudence in all things.” (1990)
At only eighteen years old, HH Sheikh Khalifa was appointed Representative of the Eastern Region in 1966 when Sheikh Zayed became Ruler of Abu Dhabi and consequently moved to Abu Dhabi City. In Al Ain, HH Sheikh Khalifa continued the development projects, particularly those involving the restoration of the underground irrigation systems and digging new wells.
Establishing himself as the main executive leader of his late father’s government, HH Sheikh Khalifa was appointed as Abu Dhabi Crown Prince in 1969 and later the first Prime Minister of the Abu Dhabi Government. He was also tasked with taking care of the defence and finance sectors to establish their infrastructures and services for the Emirate.
From 1971: Contributing to the UAE Nation State
When the United Arab Emirates was founded in 1971, and new challenges arose for the young country’s leadership, HH Sheikh Khalifa assumed the position of Deputy Prime Minister in the first federal cabinet. In 1974, the local cabinet of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi was replaced by the Executive Council as the executive entity for the local government, and HH Sheikh Khalifa was its first president.
Two years later, his role in the defence sector of the country became more pivotal with his promotion to Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces. As such he focused on military training and equipment in order to establish an optimised defence capability for the nation.
Another important post was the chairmanship of the Supreme Petroleum Council, which HH Sheikh Khalifa assumed in the late 1980s. The development of the UAE’s downstream petrochemicals and industrial complex at Ruwais, as part of wide reaching programme for the country’s economic diversification, was one of HH Sheikh Khalifa’s key concerns.
As his father’s right hand, and following Sheikh Zayed’s example of leadership, HH Sheikh Khalifa welcomed all people wishing to meet him in order to discuss their worries and problems with absolute enthusiasm and honesty, as well as a sense of responsibility. This closeness to his people is reflected in his notable concern for social aid and various support programmes that originated through personal encounters and a constantly open ear to people’s concerns.
From 2004: President of the UAE
When Sheikh Zayed, the iconic father of the United Arab Emirates, Ruler of Abu Dhabi and President of the UAE Federation passed away on November 2, 2004, HH Sheikh Khalifa succeeded him as ruler of the Emirate. Shortly thereafter, the Federal Supreme Council elected him President of the UAE for a term of five years and, in 2009, he was re-elected.
As President, HH Sheikh Khalifa stresses the importance of consultation as a political basis for the country to ensure justice and security and to encourage all UAE citizens to actively participate in running the nation. A key objective of a successful government has to be the development of leadership skills for the new generation, which consequently means that under HH Sheikh Khalifa’s presidency, education, culture, health and family issues of UAE citizens are at the top of the agenda. Simultaneously, the government is committed to strengthening the private sector, enhancing industry and encouraging tourism and investment.
HH Sheikh Khalifa is a strong supporter of the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) as a political body that brings together the historically and culturally connected nations of the Arabian the Gulf Region. Reaching out further to other Arab states, Sheikh Khalifa’s policies strongly support solidarity and commitment to supporting Arab unity and people in need. The Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD) acts as the executive body for providing foreign aid to developing countries by funding schools, hospitals, orphanages and other infrastructural necessities.
Environmental protection is a key topic for federal and local politics. Sheikh Khalifa’s affiliation to traditional sports, such as falconry, gave him a strong sense for the importance of an intact environment from an early age. In line with the Federal Supreme Council, such a common concern for environmental protection has led to key alternative energy development projects as well as the decision to host the headquarters of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) in the UAE.
- Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD)
- Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA)
- Environmental Research and Wildlife Development Agency (ERWDA)
- Abu Dhabi Department of Social Services and Commercial Buildings (1981): also known as The Sheikh Khalifa Committee, was responsible for providing loans to citizens for construction purposes. Over AED 35 billion had been lent by this Department, with over 6000 multi-storey buildings being constructed throughout the Emirate.
- Khalifa Housing Fund (1979): set to finance the construction of residential and commercial buildings for nationals at low administrative fees, allocating several billion dirhams to the fund, which became the main driver for the construction boom in Abu Dhabi.
- Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development (KFED)