In fact, it was expected: the transition of power marks only the third time the UAE has named a president since becoming an independent nation in 1971.
The vote at Al Mushrif Palace in Abu Dhabi was unanimous among His Highnesses the Rulers of the Emirates.
“We congratulate him, and we pledge allegiance to him, and our people pledge allegiance to him,” His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, said on Twitter after the vote. “The whole country is led by him to take it on the paths of glory and honour, God willing.”
“The smooth transition of power in the UAE reflects the sobriety of institutional work and the advanced level of governance mechanisms and their stability,” said Anwar Gargash. Guided by the directives of the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan and the-then President Sheikh Khalifa, Sheikh Mohamed helped develop the UAE Armed Forces in terms of strategic planning, training, organisational structure and promoting defence capabilities. His direct guidance and leadership led the UAE Armed Forces to become a leading institution that is widely admired by many international military organisations. He is not only seasoned in matters of defence, but also on foreign policy issues. Sheikh Mohammed cultivated ties with the West that proved valuable for Abu Dhabi. A US diplomatic cable from 2004 referred to him as “charismatic, savvy and very comfortable.”
Sheikh Mohamed trained at the British military academy at Sandhurst and is a pilot.
Mohamed Bin Zayed has invested in the UAE military, which extended Emirati influence.
The UAE has a strong solidarity with Saudi Arabia, and joined the country in a years-long war in Yemen. But since the lockdowns of the coronavirus pandemic, Sheikh Mohammed has rejigged diplomatic priorities by largely pulling out of the war and seeking to restore ties with Iran, Turkey and Syria. A quartet of Arab nations including the UAE also dropped their boycott of Qatar over a diplomatic dispute. The UAE is a longstanding American ally. US President Joe Biden offered a warm statement on Saturday saying he wanted to “congratulate my longtime friend” on “his election.”
“The UAE is an essential partner of the United States,” Biden said. “I look forward to working with Sheikh Mohamed to build from this extraordinary foundation to further strengthen the bonds between our countries and peoples.”
However, the UAE has maintained cordial relations with Russia and China, particularly in the wake of the war in Ukraine.
Among his many interests, Sheikh Mohamed is known for his unwavering commitment to enhance educational standards in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and raise them to be on par with the best international standards.
Since Sheikh Mohamed took on the Chairmanship of the Abu Dhabi Education Council he has worked tirelessly to forge partnerships with prestigious world-class educational institutions and think-tanks.
However, his tough-as-nails and disciplined military approach does not mean that he does not have a humane facet. In fact, there is a strong humanitarian streak that runs through his persona. Sheikh Mohamed has witnessed the launch of the National Food Loss and Waste Initiative Ne’ma, to encourage public and private sector entities to collectively address food waste and encourage responsible consumption to preserve food resources for a sustainable future. Last year, the Vatican granted the ‘Man of Humanity’ Award to Sheikh Mohamed.
In March last year, Sheikh Mohamed was awarded ‘The 2021 DIHAD International Personality Award for Humanitarian Relief ‘.
The initiative of Sheikh Mohamed to eradicate polio globally is truly praiseworthy, particularly as it has helped Pakistan immensely. In 2020, UAE-PAP support ensured that close to 16 million children under 5 years received protection through repeated polio campaigns as part of the umbrella Emirates Polio Campaign.