US President Joe Biden congratulated the UAE’s de facto ruler Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan on his election as the country’s president on Saturday, following the death of his half-brother.
“I congratulate my long-time friend Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan on his election as president of the United Arab Emirates,” Biden said in a statement, adding that he looked forward to working with the leader “to further strengthen the bonds between our countries and peoples.”
US Vice President Kamala Harris will travel to the UAE on Monday to lead a presidential delegation “and offer condolences on behalf of the Biden-Harris administration and the American people” on the death of the previous president, Sheikh Khalifa, her office said in a statement Saturday.
In Abu Dhabi, Harris will meet with Sheikh Mohamed and “underscore the strength of the partnership between our countries and our desire to further deepen our ties in the coming months and years,” the statement said.
The 61-year-old Sheikh Mohamed, a trained soldier, has long been a quiet power behind the throne of Abu Dhabi, analysts say.
He rose to prominence after his half-brother, Sheikh Khalifa, withdrew from public view in 2014 after undergoing stroke surgery.
Sheikh Mohamed was unanimously elected by the Federal Supreme Council, which includes the rulers of the UAE’s seven emirates, following the death of Sheikh Khalifa on Friday. He is also the ruler of Abu Dhabi, which controls the majority of the country’s oil wealth.