Khaled bin Mohamed: Abu Dhabi’s new crown prince and likely future Emirati president

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Khaled bin Mohamed bin Zayed was named on Wednesday as the new crown prince of Abu Dhabi.

The announcement was made by his father, UAE President Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, after receiving approval from the federal supreme council, the country’s highest legislative body, on which rulers from all seven emirates sit.

The decision means Khaled is likely to succeed his father as president, putting him ahead of the more senior Emirati royal family, which includes several of Mohammed bin Zayed’s brothers.

Khaled bin Mohamed was born in Abu Dhabi on 8 January 1982 and is the eldest son of the current president and his wife Salama bint Hamdan.

The new crown prince gained a BSc in international relations at the American University of Sharjah, before completing a PhD from the Department of War Studies at King’s College London, in 2014.

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Since then, he has played several prominent roles across Emirati institutions.

In 2016, he was appointed head of the country’s national security and became deputy national security adviser the following year.

Both roles earned him the rank of government minister.

The 41-year-old has also held other governance positions, including as chairman of Abu Dhabi’s executive office and as a member of its executive council, the emirate’s government oversight body.

In his new role as crown prince, he will also lead the latter.

Khaled bin Mohammed is also the chairman of the board of directors of Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc), one of the world’s largest oil companies by production.

In that role, he launched renewable energy and green hydrogen initiatives, as part of the UAE’s pivot towards sustainable energy.

The country will host the UN climate change conference, Cop28 later this year, and Adnoc chief executive Sultan Ahmed al-Jaber will be the new president – a decision condemned by climate change activists.

Generation after generation transfer

In 2021, Khaled bin Mohammed was named in the Pandora Papers, a massive leak of data that revealed the dubious financial dealings of world leaders and businessmen.

The leak revealed that the new crown prince was a business partner in an offshore investment deal with Singaporean billionaire Ong Beng Seng and Emirati billionaire Ali Saeed Juma Albwardy, according to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

The crown prince is also a key driving force behind UAE efforts to promote and host international sports, according to Khaleej Times.

He oversaw a deal that will see Abu Dhabi host the first National Basketball Association (NBA) games in the Gulf.

He also tried to make Abu Dhabi the world capital of martial arts and Jiu-Jitsu – the latter of which he is a practitioner himself.

His elevation to crown prince – replacing one of Mohamed bin Zayed’s brothers – has led to a generational change that has also been seen in Saudi Arabia, where Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has consolidated power.

Zayed has ruled the country since May last year after his brother Khalifa bin Zayed died at the age of 73.

The president’s brothers include Manchester City owner Mansour bin Zayed, who was promoted on Wednesday to vice president of the UAE, a role he will share with Dubai ruler Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum.

Tahnoun bin Zayed and Hazza bin Zayed, two other brothers, were also named deputy rulers of Abu Dhabi as part of the shake-up.

Tahnoun, Hazza, Mansour, and MBZ are four of six brothers known as the Bani Fatima, born to Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founder of the UAE, and his third wife, Sheikha Fatima.

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