The ruler of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, died on Friday, the government’s state news agency announced in a brief statement. He was 73 years old.
The UAE Ministry of Presidential Affairs announced a 40-day mourning period and a three-day work suspension across all ministries and the private sector from Friday, including flags to be flown at half-staff.
He has long since ceased to be involved in the day-to-day business of running the country, with his brother, Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, seen as the de facto ruler. There was no immediate announcement of a successor, although Mohammed bin Zayed is in line to inherit the top job.
Sheikh Khalifa, who has rarely been seen in official photos or at public events for years, succeeded his father and the founder of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Zayed, in 2004. He suffered a stroke a decade later, leaving him kept largely out of the public eye ever since.
The world’s tallest tower in the emirate of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates is named Burj Khalifa in honor of the late ruler, whose oil-rich emirate helped rescue Dubai during a financial crisis.