Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates, died on Friday at the age of 73, according to official media, after fighting sickness for several years.
“The Ministry of Presidential Affairs expresses condolences to the people of the UAE and the Islamic world… on the death of Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan on Friday, May 13,” stated the official WAM news agency.
The government declared 40 days of mourning beginning Friday, with flags flying at half-mast and work stopped in the public and private sectors for the first three days.
Sheikh Khalifa became the UAE’s second president in November 2004, following his father as the 16th ruler of Abu Dhabi, the richest emirate in the union.
He has not been seen in public since 2014, when he had surgery after suffering a stroke, although he has continued to deliver judgements.
In recent years, his brother, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, has been regarded as the UAE’s de facto ruler.