Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan was elected by the Federal Supreme Council, according to the official WAM news agency.
The UAE’s longtime de facto ruler, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, was elected president on Saturday, the day after its former leader passed away.
Sheikh Mohamed has been elected by the Federal Supreme Council, state news agency WAM reported, after years of pulling strings behind the scenes as his half-brother Sheikh Khalifa was sidelined due to poor health.
The leaders of the seven United Arab Emirates made the decision in a meeting. It comes after the death of the late President Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan on Friday.
WAM described the vote as unanimous among the rulers of the emirates in the country, which also includes the skyscraper-dotted city of Dubai.
“We commend him and pledge allegiance to him, and our people pledge allegiance to him,” Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum said on Twitter after the vote. “The whole country is led by him to take him on the paths of glory and honor, God willing.”
Known as MBZ, Sheikh Mohamed is one of the most powerful leaders in the Arab world. A graduate of Britain’s Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, he commands one of the best-equipped armies in the Gulf region.
Working behind the scenes for years as de facto leader, Sheikh Mohammed, 61, has transformed the United Arab Emirates’ military into a high-tech force, which, coupled with its oil wealth and status as a business, has extended Emirati influence internationally.
Mohammed came to power at a time when his half-brother Sheikh Khalifa suffered from bouts of illness, including a stroke in 2014.
Abu Dhabi, which holds most of the Gulf state’s oil wealth, has held the presidency since the founding of the United Arab Emirates federation by Sheikh Khalifa’s father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, in 1971.