legacy | 

Conor McGregor in 'mourning' with the people of the UAE following president's death

A pro-Western moderniser, Sheikh Khalifa was known for aligning the Gulf State closer to the US and its allies
The picture of Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan posted by McGregor

The picture of Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan posted by McGregor

Neil Fetherstonhaugh

Conor McGregor has expressed his condolences on the passing of the president of the UAE, Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed.

Taking to Instagram, the Dubliner posted that he was “mourning with the people of the UAE at the passing of Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed".

“His legacy is historic,” the Notorious added.

Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan who was born in 1948 passed away this week.

His brother the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed had been running presidential affairs since the Sheikh stopped appearing in public after a stroke in 2014.

Conor McGregor is due back in the octagon this summer. Brian Lawless/PA

Conor McGregor is due back in the octagon this summer. Brian Lawless/PA

UAE is set to observe a mourning period of 40 days with other official remembrances declared in many other Arab League nations including Bahrain, Lebanon, Oman, Mauritania and Qatar who announced they would join in honouring the late leader.

A pro-Western moderniser, Sheikh Khalifa was known for aligning the Gulf State closer to the US and its allies.

He oversaw much of the country's economic growth and bailed out debt-ridden Dubai during its financial crisis more than 10 years ago.

Sheikh Khalifa also helped fund the world's tallest building, Burj Khalifa, which was named after him.

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He became president in 2004 - but suffered a stroke and had emergency surgery a decade later and stopped being involved in the day-to-day affairs of ruling the country.

He had rarely been seen in public since.

During the last few years of his life, his half-brother, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, became the de-factor ruler and decision-maker of major foreign policy decisions, like joining the Saudi-led war in Yemen and leading an embargo on Qatar in the past few years.

"The UAE has lost its righteous son and leader of the 'empowerment phase' and guardian of its blessed journey," Sheikh Mohammed said.

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken called Sheikh Khalifa "as a true friend of the United States", adding that the US remains committed to its steadfast friendship and cooperation with the UAE.

Vice President Kamala Harris also expressed her condolences although relations between the Biden administration and the UAE have been strained over the country's refusal to join US efforts to isolate Russia following its invasion of Ukraine.

The crown prince, also the deputy supreme commander of the armed forces, brought the UAE closer to Israel after the two countries normalised relations in 2020.

Yesterday Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Mohammed was unanimously appointed as the autocratic nation’s president.

The ascension of Sheikh Mohammed (61) had been expected with the transition of power marking only the third time the US-allied nation of seven sheikhdoms has selected a president since becoming an independent nation in 1971.

The state-run WAM news agency described the vote at Al-Mushrif Palace in Abu Dhabi as unanimous among the rulers of the country’s hereditarily ruled sheikhdoms, which includes the skyscraper-studded city of Dubai.

“We congratulate him, and we pledge allegiance to him, and our people pledge allegiance to him,” Dubai’s ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, said on Twitter after the vote.

“The whole country is led by him to take it on the paths of glory and honor, God willing.”


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