Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, the UAE’s leader, has been chosen the new president!

Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, the de facto ruler of the United Arab Emirates, was voted president of the Gulf Arab state by a federal supreme council on Saturday, cementing his control over the OPEC oil exporter and vital regional role. He takes office at a time when the UAE’s long-standing ties with the US have been strained by the US’s perceived withdrawal from the security concerns of its Gulf allies, and as Western countries seek support from the region to help isolate Russia over the Ukraine conflict. Sheikh Mohammed, popularly known as MbZ, was elected by the council of the seven emirates of the UAE federation a day after his half-brother, President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, who was also ruler of Abu Dhabi, died.

“We congratulate him and pledge allegiance to him as do our people…and the entire country will follow his leadership to glory,” Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, who is also UAE vice-president and premier, said in a Twitter post. MbZ, 61, had already been wielding power for years during which he led a realignment of the Middle East that created a new anti-Iran axis with Israel and invested in the UAE military, which coupled with its oil wealth, extended Emirati influence. The UAE, a trade and tourism hub, has also deepened ties with Russia and China at a time when Washington’s political capital with Abu Dhabi and Riyadh has been eroded by differences over the Yemen war, Iran and U.S. conditions on lucrative arms sales.

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