The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has announced the demise of its ruler, President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan.
According to the state’s media, Sheikh Khalifa died on Friday at the age of 73, after battling illness for several years.
The WAM news agency reported, “The Ministry of Presidential Affairs condoles the people of the UAE and the Islamic world… on the passing of Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan on Friday, May 13.”
The UAE also announced 40 days of mourning from Friday, with work suspended in the public and private sector for the first three days and flags flown at half-mast.
73-year-old Sheikh Khalifa succeeded his father Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan as the second president in November 2004, and also as the 16th ruler of Abu Dhabi, UAE’s richest emirate.
He was reported to have had surgery following a stroke he suffered in 2014 and was rarely seen in public since then.
His brother, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, has been seen as the United Arab Emirates de facto ruler in recent years.