UAE strongman Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed named new president

  • MbZ becomes president in times of tension with the US
  • He led a realignment in the Middle East and forged ties with Israel
  • The UAE has also deepened ties with Russia and China
  • Economic development a priority for foreign policy

DUBAI, May 14 (Reuters) – The de facto leader of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, was elected president of the Arab Gulf state by a supreme federal council on Saturday, extending his rule over oil producer OPEC and important regional player. read more

He will become president at a time when the UAE’s long-standing ties with the United States are strained over the alleged US withdrawal from the security concerns of its Gulf allies and as Western countries seek support in the region to help isolate Russia in the conflict in the United States. Ukraine.

The council, which groups the rulers of the seven emirates of the UAE federation, elected Sheikh Mohammed, better known as MbZ, a day after the death of his half-brother, President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, who was also ruler of Abu Dhabi.

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“We congratulate him and swear allegiance to him, as do our people,” said Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, who is also vice president and prime minister of the UAE.

MbZ, 61, has spent years wielding power behind the scenes, leading a Middle East realignment that created a new anti-Iran axis with Israel.

The UAE, a center of trade and tourism, 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 disagreements over the war in Yemen, Iran and US arms sales conditions.

“Mohammed bin Zayed has charted the future course not only for the UAE, but for much of the Gulf in his approach to state building and power projection,” said Kristin Diwan, senior scientist at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington.

“The future direction under him is set and reflected in other Gulf leaders adopting state-led and globally oriented economic diversification.”

‘EXTRAORDINARY FOUNDATION’

The Biden administration has moved to restore ties with oil heavyweights Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Both have refused to take sides in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine and have rejected Western calls to pump more oil in order to contain the price of crude oil. read more

President Joe Biden said in a statement on Saturday that he looks forward to working with Sheikh Mohammed “to build on this extraordinary foundation to further strengthen ties between our countries and peoples.”

Vice President Kamala Harris will lead a US delegation to the UAE on Monday to offer condolences after Khalifa’s death and meet with MbZ, press secretary Kirsten Allen said.

French President Emmanuel Macron, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Israeli President Isaac Herzog arrive on Sunday. read more S8N2S7032

MbZ as president wouldn’t cause the UAE to break with the United States or other Western partners, though he will diversify the country’s international partners, Emirates political scientist Abulkhaleq Abdulla told Reuters.

MbZ has moved away from an aggressive foreign policy and military adventurism, which has seen the UAE wade into conflict from Yemen to Libya, to focus on economic priorities. This has led the UAE to come into contact with enemies Iran and Turkey after years of hostility, as well as the president of Syria.

“MbZ will need to take further steps to strengthen the UAE’s position as the region’s leading financial, logistics and trade hub,” Capital Economics’ James Swanston said in a note, citing pressure from Gulf states to diversify economies to center of a global energy market. transition of hydrocarbons.

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Reporting by Enas Alashray, Lisa Barrington, Saeed Azhar, Alexander Cornwell, Steve Holland and Ari Rabinovitch; Written by Ghaida Ghantous; Editing by Kirsten Donovan and Christina Fincher

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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