By Shaneer N. Siddiqui
Dubai, May 14 (IANS): The President of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan (73), passed away on Friday, the state news agency WAM announced.
Confirming the news, the Ministry of Presidential Affairs said there will be 40 days of official mourning with flags across the UAE drawn at half-mast, and the work of all UAE ministries at the federal and local levels, as well as those in the private sector, will be suspended for three days, beginning Friday.
The Ministry expressed its condolence to the people of the UAE, Arab and Islamic nations and the world over the death of Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed.
Prominent Indian businessmen, religious leaders and cultural figures also expressed their deep sorrow over the death of Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, who took charge as the UAE President and Emir of Abu Dhabi on November 3, 2004.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted, "I am deeply saddened to know about the passing away of HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed. He was a great statesman and visonary leader under whom India-UAE relations prospered. The heartfelt condolences of the people of India are with the people of UAE. May his soul rest in peace."
Indian Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal said Sheikh Khalifa was a reformer and praised him for fostering deeper relations between the two countries.
"A strong and visionary leader, he steered the UAE through path-breaking reforms, making it an oasis of prosperity. His contributions in fostering deeper India-UAE ties cannot be overstated," Goyal Tweeted.
Yusuffali M.A., Chairman of Lulu Group, expressed his sadness and remembered his meetings with Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed.
He remembered him as a true leader who loved both the locals and expats equally.
"Like millions in the UAE and elsewhere in the world, the sad news of the passing away of our beloved HH Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan has brought sudden gloom in my life. I vividly cherish those fond memories of Sheikh Khalifa's love and affection towards me whenever I called upon the President in various palaces in the UAE and abroad.
"Sheikh Khalifa was a true humanitarian and visionary who transformed the UAE into one of the most developed, secure, safe, tolerant and culturally rich countries in the world. The fact that more than 200 different nationalities call this great country their home, earning their livelihood and living with most dignity and respect, is a true testimony of the benevolence of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa," Yusuffali said.
Shamsheer Vayalil, Chairman and Managing Director, VPS Healthcare, said, "We are deeply saddened by the untimely demise of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE President and Ruler of Abu Dhabi. He will be remembered as a great statesman and noble leader who made lasting contributions to nation-building.
"Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed served the nation to the fullest of his abilities throughout his entire lifetime. He was a visionary leader who made pioneering contributions to the nation, to the world and to his beloved people. In this moment of grief, we extend our heartfelt condolences to the royal family. May Allah Almighty grant him eternal peace."
Azad Moopen, Founder-Chairman and Managing Director, Aster DM Healthcare, said, "We are deeply saddened by the demise of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan. He was a visionary leader who led the UAE to be one among the most prosperous countries in the region. Sheikh Khalifa was a people's person and his love for the people of his country, both the citizens and expatriates, was legendary. He was silently effective in creating an atmosphere of peace and harmony among the multiple nationalities living here.
"Our deepest condolence to the members of the royal family and the Supreme Council. His teachings will be an inspiration for the generations to come and he will continue to be our guiding light. May God bless his soul."
Kamal Vachani, Group Director and Partner at Al Maya Group, said in his condolence message: "With great sorrow, I learnt the news of the death of President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed. I extend my sincerest condolences to His Highness, and the Al Nahyan family. Sheikh Khalifa was known for being a good listener, modest, and deeply interested in the affairs of his people. The President was a much-loved figure in the UAE and the region."
Bharat Bhatia, CEO, Conar, esexpress his sadness with a message that read, "Today we lost an important pillar of the UAE society. HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE and Ruler of Abu Dhabi, was an inspiration to all residents of this country and his courageous leadership took this nation to unimaginable heights. I would like to express my deepest condolences to the Zayed family, H.H Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and the Ruler of Dubai and the entire people of the UAE."
Rizwan Sajan, Chairman and Founder of Danube Group, said, "We at Danube Group pray that his soul rests in peace. He was a visionary and embraced sustainable development as a guiding methodology to build up a modern nation that derives its human, socio-economic, and cultural clout from robust constitutional, organisational and structural tenets.
The Indian Embassy and the Consulate General of India in Dubai said in a tweet: "Deeply saddened by the passing away of HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE. We extend our sincere condolences to the people of the UAE in this hour of mourning. We stand by our Emirati brothers and sisters, with the tricolour at half-mast.
Pujya Brahmavihari Swami, head of BAPS Hindu Mandir in Abu Dhabi, expressed profound sorrow and heartfelt prayers for the royal family.
Special prayers are to be offered on the land graciously given by the royal family upon which the BAPS Hindu Mandir has been constructed, he said.
A message issued by Brahmavihari Swami read, "On behalf of all the Hindus living in the United Arab Emirates, I express my grief to the royal family of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi during this moment of sorrow at the passing away of H.H. Sheikh Khalifa. May Sheikh Khalifa rest in peace and that all those who came into contact with him find strength to bear the loss of a such a great soul.
"His monumental work shall continue to echo into the greatness of this country and will remain a testament to those who have come to call the UAE their home. May one and all find peace during this difficult period. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and the royal family."