Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan elected as UAE president

Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan elected as UAE president

DUBAI Reuters - The de facto leader of the United Arab Emirates Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan was elected by a federal supreme council on Saturday, solidifying his rule over the OPEC oil producer and key regional player.

The council, which is composed of the rulers of the seven emirates of the UAE federation, elected Sheikh Mohammed, known as MbZ, a day after the death of his half-brother, President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, who was also ruler of Abu Dhabi.

We congratulate him and pledge allegiance to him as do our people. The UAE vice-president and prime minister Sheikh MohammedMohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, who is also UAE vice-president and premier, said in a tweet that the whole country will follow his leadership to glory.

MbZ, 61, had already been wielding power in a period when Sheikh Khalifa suffered bouts of illness in 2014, including a stroke.

He becomes president at a time when the UAE's long-standing ties with the United States have been strained due to U.S. disengagement from its Gulf allies' security concerns.

MbZ led a realignment of the Middle East that created a new anti-Iran axis with Israel. He also bolstered the military might of the UAE, which, coupled with its oil wealth and business hub status, extended Emirati influence in the region and beyond.