Focal Point

Since becoming the President of the UAE in 2004, HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan has continued in his father's footsteps while also building upon his achievements and created a more prosperous and inclusive society.


Having grown up in Al Ain, HH Sheikh Khalifa has close links to the Eastern Region. In 1966, at the age of 18, he succeeded his father as Ruler’s Representative. In 1969, he was appointed Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi. HH Sheikh Khalifa is the head of Abu Dhabi’s ruling Al Nahyan family, which has led the Bani Yas tribal confederation for nearly 300 years.


With the creation of the UAE in December 1971, HH Sheikh Khalifa became Deputy Prime Minister in the first federal cabinet. He also served as head of the Abu Dhabi Cabinet, becoming Chairman of its successor, the Executive Council, in 1974. Upon the merger of the UAE’s Armed Forces in 1976, he became Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces. In the late 1980s, Sheikh Khalifa was also appointed as Chairman of Abu Dhabi’s Supreme Petroleum Council.


As president of the UAE, HH Sheikh Khalifa has worked closely with HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, and with HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, his successor as Abu Dhabi Crown Prince, to continue the program of development initiated by the late Sheikh Zayed. A fundamental element of that has been a focus on providing the country’s citizens with the requisite elements to enable them to live a productive and fulfilling life, not just in their homes, but through the opportunities provided to them. Through an extensive and expensive program of initiatives that have covered improvements in the national infrastructure, healthcare, education, housing, and employment, the whole of the country has seen substantial progress in the decade since HH Sheikh Khalifa became president. The diversification of the economy away from dependency on oil and gas, through the development of major industrial projects tourism and services has provided an important boost to the private sector of the economy.

At the same time, in accordance with the guidelines and policies laid down by Sheikh Zayed and building on his achievements, there has been substantial progress in the empowerment of women, as exemplified by their presence in the Cabinet and the Federal National Council (FNC), and in the promotion of a greater engagement by citizens in the process of governance. First created by Sheikh Zayed at the beginning of the federation, the FNC now has democratic elections for half of its members, part of a long-term plan to enhance its role.

In Abu Dhabi, the results of the initiatives by HH Sheikh Khalifa, ably assisted by his Crown Prince, HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, can be seen in the coming to fruition of free zones such as the Khalifa Industrial Zone Abu Dhabi (Kizad) and Global Marketplace Abu Dhabi. HH Sheikh Khalifa has also presided over the development of the Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030, a plan that will take GDP to over $415 billion, with the hydrocarbon sector representing just 36% of the figure. As part of the plan, Abu Dhabi is targeting the promotion of a more open, integrated business environment, the adoption of disciplined fiscal policy, the establishment of a resilient monetary and financial environment, an improved labor market, the construction of infrastructure to support growth, the cultivation of a highly skilled workforce, and the enabling of financial markets.

Like his father before him, HH Sheikh Khalifa has had a lasting impact on the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and the UAE. He has pioneered a transparent and open style of rule, promoting the long-established concept of consultation between government and people, and watched as the country moves beyond dependence on its hydrocarbon wealth to take the first steps to life beyond oil.