Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the president of the United Arab Emirates, appointed his eldest son Khaled as crown prince of Abu Dhabi on Wednesday, placing him as next in line to take over as the leader of the federation.
The state-run WAM news agency announced the appointment of Sheikh Khaled bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan as crown prince late Wednesday, without providing further details.
After Sheikh Mohammed, 62, who is commonly known as MBZ, ascended to the presidency last year, rumors swirled about whether he would make one of his brothers his heir.
In that case, the front-runners would have been Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed, the powerful national security chief, Sheikh Mansour, the owner of the Manchester City football club, or the foreign minister, Sheikh Abdullah.
Instead, he appears to concentrating power within his immediate family, as Saudi Arabia’s King Salman did by delegating wide-ranging powers to his son and heir, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, known as MBS.
A separate announcement said Sheikh Mohammed had appointed Sheikh Mansour as vice president of the UAE with the approval of the Federal Supreme Council. Sheikh Tahnoun and another brother, Sheikh Hazza, were appointed deputy rulers of Abu Dhabi.
Sheikh Khaled, 41, the new crown prince, has risen to prominence at the country’s state security service and as chairman of the powerful Abu Dhabi Executive Office.
The United Arab Emirates, a close U.S. ally, is best known as the home of Dubai, a major international hub for business and travel.
The federation of seven emirates, including oil-rich Abu Dhabi, has rapidly transformed itself over the past half-century from a desert region sparsely populated by Bedouin tribes into a political and economic powerhouse with state-of-the-art infrastructure, including the world’s tallest skyscraper.