Malik Nasir Mahmood Aslam describes New crown prince of Abu Dhabi
In a New crown prince of Abu Dhabi departure from sibling-based succession Abu Dhabi has named the son of the ruler as the new crown prince. Abu Dhabi has become the third Gulf state to amend the previous policy of succession after Saudi Arabia and Dubai. Consequently, the president of the United Arab Emirates named his eldest son as crown prince of Abu Dhabi making him the oil-rich Gulf monarchy’s likely next leader and cementing his family’s hold on power. The ruler of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who inherited the throne from his brother Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, declared Sheikh Khaled, 41, his jiu-jitsu-loving son, as the crown prince of the UAE’s richest emirate that is described as a position traditionally held by the leader-in-waiting.
It was part of the biggest political shake-up since Sheikh Mohamed, 62, sometimes known as “MBZ” and the UAE’s long-time de facto ruler, became president last May following the death of his half-brother Sheikh Khalifa, who had been sidelined by ill health for years. MBZ’s brother Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, the owner of Manchester City football club, became vice president, joining Dubai’s ruler and UAE Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum in the role. Two other brothers of MBZ — Tahnoun bin Zayed, the UAE’s national security adviser and chairman of the ADQ sovereign wealth fund and Hazza bin Zayed became deputy rulers of Abu Dhabi which controls the bulk of the country’s oil reserves. MBZ’s ascension to the presidency last year prompted speculation over who would succeed him as Abu Dhabi crown prince, with Sheikh Khaled and Tahnoun both tipped for the honour.
The UAE, one of the world’s biggest oil producers and an ally of the United States, Russia and China alike, has become a major power in the Middle East as traditional heavyweights such as Egypt and Iraq fell back in recent years. Sheikh Khaled’s appointment was welcomed by other Gulf rulers including fellow energy giants Saudi Arabia and Qatar as well as leaders of the UAE’s six other emirates. Many observers point out that the series of changes shored up power among MBZ’s close family. This move of appointing his son rather than a brother as crown prince has been anticipated. It follows the lineal model apparent elsewhere in the Gulf and is recognised to provide for more stability and smoother successions. They added that consolidation of power among MBZ’s full siblings is no secret and that this decree reaffirms it.
The new crown prince Sheikh Khaled has served as a member of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council and as chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Office and sits on the board of state oil giant ADNOC. He has been closely involved in youth and environmental projects as well as sports, promoting jiu jitsu and helping bring NBA basketball games to Abu Dhabi. He had already represented his father on trips abroad as part of his preparations for leadership. With his father still in the early days of his presidency, Sheikh Khaled still has time to learn though he was groomed for this job. Everybody that closely watched him over the years knows that he is ready for it and he is fit for the job. He has earned the trust of his father, comes across as very easy with people and mingles well which is very important for a future leader.
His father remained the de facto ruler of Abu Dhabi and at the demise of his brother was elected president by a federal supreme council that solidified his rule over the OPEC oil producer and key regional player. He became president at a time when the UAE’s longstanding ties with the United States were strained over perceived US disengagement from its Gulf allies’ security concerns and as Western countries seek support from the region on the Ukraine conflict. The council, which groups the rulers of the seven emirates of the UAE federation, elected Sheikh Mohammed, known as MBZ, a day after the death of his half-brother, President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed. MBZ, 62, was wielding power for years during which he led a realignment of the Middle East that created a new anti-Iran axis with Israel. The UAE, a trade and tourism hub, has also deepened ties with Russia and China at a time when Washington’s political capital with Abu Dhabi and Riyadh has been eroded by differences over the Yemen war, Iran and US conditions on lucrative arms sales.
One of his initial acts in his office was to welcome Syrian President Bashar al-Assad with the aim to streamline ties with the Arab states. His policy coincided with amplified engagement by Arab states towards the Syrian government which has been politically isolated in the region since the start of Syria’s war and was expelled from the Cairo-based Arab League in 2011 over its violent crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrations and other arbitrary policies. TW