Tariq Al-Homayed
Saudi journalist and writer, and former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper

May God Have Mercy on Sheikh Khalifa

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has bid farewell to Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, the head of state, who passed away, leaving behind a successful and stable Gulf state that is pioneering among its neighbors and enjoys an international standing.

Moreover, the UAE’s political approach weighs heavily on the axis of Arab moderation.

In his life and death, Sheikh Khalifa reflected Gulf strength and governance that are based on establishing stability, prosperity and development, and the smooth transition of power among the rulers of states.

Sheikh Khalifa lived as a soldier for his late founding father, Sheikh Zayed, may he rest in peace.

He later on assumed power and became the umbrella of stability for all the UAE’s Emirates, and the umbrella of the house of governance there. His brothers surrounded him as soldiers to complete the project of building and developing the state.

As president, Sheikh Khalifa delegated important and great powers to his brother, Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed. His move centered around completing construction and development quickly and with discipline. The sons of Sheikh Zayed, may God have mercy on him, turned into soldiers for their late brother Sheikh Khalifa

Sheikh Khalifa and his brothers carried on the path of their father Sheikh Zayed, whereby they launched the project of development and consolidation of stability, not only for Emiratis, but also for the pillars of Arab moderation dealing with thorny regional issues.

In November 2006, I had the honor of conducting a press interview with Sheikh Khalifa which was published by Asharq Al-Awsat. Since my arrival at the palace at that time, the notions on the approach and stability of the UAE were made clear.

Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed had received both me and my colleague, Mr. Salman Al-Dossary. All the sons of the late Sheikh Zayed were present, save for Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, who was on a work trip.

Everyone was present alongside Sheikh Khalifa and Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed. Sheikh Khalifa kicked off the meeting with a warm welcome and took the initiative to talk about the development of Abu Dhabi between 2004 and 2006. I commented on a project that I had noticed along the way.

Sheikh Khalifa asked me: Do you mean the so-and-so site? I said: Yes.

He then turned to Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, asking: Has the project not been completed? Sheikh Mohammed smiled and a discussion took place as if I was attending a working session.

I was intrigued by the dialogue, the details and the interaction.

I felt that I tried to start the conversation in a nice way but ended up stirring a detailed practical discussion.

However, the transparency in dialogue, and the way and details of Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed’s response to Sheikh Khalifa drew my attention.

At the time, Sheikh Khalifa was talking about specific issues that occupy the region today, from extremism, to subversive groups, and the stability of countries. His questions were meant to offer a stance, they weren’t intended for clarification.

Since then, the UAE, as a country, has not deviated from Sheikh Khalifa’s approach in posing meaningful questions that are tantamount to guidance. The leader of the implementation and the main partner for change was Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, who described the era of his late brother as “the era of empowerment.”

As a journalist, since that meeting, I realized that what is happening in the UAE is methodical, not the product of urgent trends. This was consolidated by Sheikh Mohammed, Sheikh Khalifa’s successor.

May Allah have mercy on Sheikh Khalifa, and may Allah protect Sheikh Mohammed and the people of the UAE.