Sheikh Khalifa of the United Arab Emirates dies

FILE – Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan of the United Arab Emirates walks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, out of picture, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, February 5, 2007. Sheikh Khalifa died on Friday 13 February. May 2022, the state news agency reported. He was 73 years old. (AP Photo/WAM, File)

Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan of the United Arab Emirates died on Friday after a long illness, the state news agency reported 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 in the public and private sectors starting Friday, with flags lowered to half-staff.

He had long since ceased to deal with the day-to-day business of government. His brother Mohammed bin Zayed, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, appeared as the de facto head of government. It was not immediately known who will succeed him, although Mohammed bin Zayed is in the line of succession.

Sheikh Khalifa, who has appeared in few official photos or public events for years, succeeded UAE founder Sheikh Zayed in 2004. Ten years later he suffered a stroke and has remained largely out of the public eye ever since.

The tallest tower in the world, in the emirate of Dubai, is named Burj Khalifa in honor of the late ruler, whose oil-rich emirate rescued Dubai from a financial crisis.