The United Arab Emirates’ de facto chief Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan was elected president of the Gulf Arab state by a federal supreme council on Saturday, solidifying his rule over the OPEC oil producer and key regional participant.
He turns into president at a time when the UAE’s long-standing ties with the USA have been strained over perceived U.S. disengagement from its Gulf allies’ safety considerations and as Western international locations search assist from the area to assist isolate Russia over the Ukraine battle.
The council, which teams the rulers of the seven emirates of the UAE federation, elected Sheikh Mohammed, referred to as MbZ, a day after the demise of his half-brother, President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, who was additionally ruler of Abu Dhabi.
“We congratulate him and pledge allegiance to him as do our folks…and your complete nation will observe his management to glory,” Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, who can also be UAE vice-president and premier, mentioned in a Twitter submit.
MbZ, 61, had already been wielding energy for years throughout which he led a realignment of the Center East that created a brand new anti-Iran axis with Israel and invested within the UAE army, which coupled with its oil wealth, prolonged Emirati affect.
The UAE, a commerce and tourism hub, has additionally deepened ties with Russia and China at a time when Washington’s political capital with Abu Dhabi and Riyadh has been eroded by variations over the Yemen battle, Iran and U.S. situations on profitable arms gross sales.
“Mohammed bin Zayed has set not solely the long run course for the UAE however for a lot of the Gulf in his strategy to state constructing and energy projection,” mentioned Kristin Diwan, senior resident scholar at Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington.
“The longer term course beneath him is about and is mirrored in different Gulf leaders adopting state-led and globally-oriented financial diversification and a extra assertive international coverage that appears past the Gulf and conventional companions.”
The Biden administration has moved to fix ties with oil heavyweights Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Each have refused to take sides within the Russia-Ukraine battle and rebuffed Western calls to pump extra oil to assist tame crude costs.
It was not clear if President Joe Biden could be amongst world leaders heading to Abu Dhabi to supply condolences following Sheikh Khalifa’s demise. French President Emmanuel Macron is because of arrive on Sunday.
MbZ has shifted away from a hawkish international coverage and army adventurism, that noticed the UAE wade into conflicts from Yemen to Libya, to concentrate on financial priorities. This has seen the UAE have interaction with foes Iran and Turkey after years of animosity, in addition to Syria’s president.
“MbZ might want to take additional steps to cement the UAE’s place because the area’s main monetary, logistics, and buying and selling hub,” James Swanston of Capital Economics mentioned in a observe, referring to a push by Gulf states to diversify economies amid a worldwide power transition away from hydrocarbons.