The United Arab Emirates’ President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan has appointed his eldest son Sheikh Khaled as crown prince of Abu Dhabi on Wednesday, according to a presidential decree, making him next in line as the leader of the oil-rich emirate.
Sheikh Khaled, 41, is married to Sheikha Fatima bint Suroor Al Nahyan. They have one son and one daughter. He graduated from the American University of Sharjah and obtained his PhD from the King's College London’s Department of War Studies in 2014, according to Gulf News.
Since then, he has held several top positions across Emirati institutions. In 2016, he was named chairman of the State Security Department and a year later was appointed deputy national security adviser. Since 2019, he has been a member of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council and chairman of the powerful Abu Dhabi Executive Office, a government body that oversees the implementation of strategic and executive plans in the emirate.
Sheikh Khaled also sits on the board of state oil firm the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company. During his tenure at the oil giant, he has launched several renewable energy and green hydrogen projects as the UAE moves toward sustainable energy.
The local Khaleej Times news site mentions that Sheikh Khaled oversaw the inauguration of a number of youth and cultural programs. As a jiu-jitsu practitioner, he has sought to host global sports events in the UAE. In 2021, he attended the signing ceremony of a partnership agreement between the Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism and the National Basketball Association (NBA), which saw Abu Dhabi host the first NBA games in the Gulf region in October 2022.
Although Sheikh Khaled has made several achievements in the Emirates, he was one of many politicians mentioned in the Pandora Papers, the 2021 leak of nearly 12 million documents exposing politicians who have evaded taxes. According to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, Sheikh Khaled was a business partner in an offshore investment company along with Singapore billionaire Ong Beng Seng and Emirati billionaire Ali Saeed Juma Albwardy.
Leaders from across the Gulf including Saudi King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman congratulated Sheikh Khaled on his appointment.
In a separate decree, Sheikh Mohamed, also known by his initials MBZ, named his brother Sheikh Mansour as UAE vice president. He also appointed his other brothers, Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Hazza bin Zayed Al Nahyan, as deputy rulers of Abu Dhabi.
The recent appointments reflect the president's attempts to centralize power in oil-rich Abu Dhabi. He had been the de facto leader in the Emirates since his brother and former Abu Dhabi ruler Sheikh Khalifa, suffered a stroke in 2014. After the latter’s death in May 2022, Sheikh Mohamed became president of the UAE.
The Gulf nation has transformed over the past decades from a desert into a major financial and business hub in the region.
During Sheikh Mohamed’s rule, the UAE has boosted its alliance with fellow oil giant Saudi Arabia and joined the Arab coalition fighting in Yemen before it gradually pulled back its forces. In 2020, along with Bahrain, the UAE agreed to establish full diplomatic ties with Israel and signed a US-brokered deal known as the Abraham Accords, which was seen as a way to bolster an opposition front against Iran’s growing influence in the region.