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Asharq Al-Awsat

World Leaders Pay Respects in UAE after Death of Sheikh Khalifa

French President Emmanuel Macron meets newly-elected president of the United Arab Emirates Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan to mourn the death of Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan at Al Mushrif Palace in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, May 15, 2022. (Reuters)

World leaders began descending on the United Arab Emirates on Sunday to offer condolences on the death of President Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who was succeeded by his half-brother Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed.

Sheikh Mohammed, now ruler of Abu Dhabi emirate, steered the Gulf state, an OPEC oil producer and regional business hub, for years before being elected the UAE's third president by a federal supreme council on Saturday.

French President Emmanuel Macron, whose country holds lucrative business and military ties with the UAE, arrived in Abu Dhabi and in a Twitter post paid tribute to Sheikh Khalifa's "values of peace, openness and dialogue".

Sultan of Oman Haitham bin Tariq also traveled to the UAE to offer his condolences.

The president of Israel, with which the UAE forged ties two years ago in a major realignment of the Middle East, drawing Palestinian ire, was also due on Sunday as was the Palestinian president and Britain's prime minister.

US President Joe Biden will be represented by Vice President Kamila Harris, due to visit on Monday.

Several Arab leaders, including Jordan's King Abdullah II and Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, came on Saturday to pay respects.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had telephoned Sheikh Mohammed to congratulate him on his election. The Kingdom has sent a delegation to the UAE.

Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, brother to the Emir of Qatar, was also in Abu Dhabi to offer his condolences.

Other dignitaries who flew in to the UAE included Kuwait's Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah al-Khalid al-Sabah, Bahrain's Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa, Iraqi Prime Minister Muatfa al-Kadhimi, Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Miqati, Prime Minister of Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan Region Masrour Barzani, Sudan's Sovereign Council Chairman Lt. General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, Algeria's Prime Minister Ayman Benabderrahmane, the Syrian President's Representative, Mansour Azzam, Tunisia's President Kais Saied, and Turkmenistan's President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov.