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Mohamed bin Zayed, from power behind throne to UAE ruler

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Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who was elected as UAE president on Saturday, has long been seen as a strongman who has driven the Gulf country's rise to greater prominence.

A trained soldier and football fan, Sheikh Mohamed has for years been the quiet power behind the throne of Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates.

The 61-year-old took office, as was widely expected, after the death on Friday of his half-brother Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who had led the country since 2004.

Sheikh Mohamed was unanimously elected by the Federal Supreme Council, made up of rulers of the UAE's seven emirates. He has also been named as ruler of Abu Dhabi, which controls most of the country's oil wealth.

He has long wielded power, however. In a 2009 note to then US president Barack Obama leaked by WikiLeaks, former American ambassador Richard Olson said he was "the man who runs the United Arab Emirates".

Despite his low profile, and apparent reluctance to speak in public, his ambition has been on display in recent years as the UAE built its profile as a regional player.

He was first Gulf leader to strike a deal........

© Al Monitor

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