The Sunday News
PRESIDENT Mnangagwa has sent a condolence message to the people of the United Arab Emirates following the death of the country’s President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayel Al Nahayan.
He described the deceased as a visionary leader who transformed the UAE to become the jewel it is today.
Sheikh Khalifa under whom the United Arab Emirates transformed into a global economic hub, died on Friday at the age of 73. In his condolence message, President Mnangagwa described Sheikh Khalifa as an inspirational figure who influenced development in many countries including Zimbabwe.
“I wish to convey heartfelt condolences to the leadership, Government and people of the United Arab Emirates over the irreparable loss.
I wish to convey special condolences to His Royal Highness, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and the Royal Family over the passing on of his dear brother,” said President Mnangagwa.
The President said Sheikh Khalifa served as an example of how leaders can transform nations.
“Today, we mourn a father figure and strategist, whose visionary leadership transformed the United Arab Emirates from a desert outpost to the global hub and jewel it is today.
“His unparalleled wisdom, magnanimity and generosity touched and transformed lives, not only in the United Arab Emirates but also in distant lands, such as my own country Zimbabwe and the world over.”
The United Arab Emirates will be observing 40 days of mourning following the death. Sheikh Khalifa had been President of the UAE since replacing his father Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan in 2004.
Throughout his tenure, Sheikh Khalifa supported Zimbabwe even when the country was enduring Western sponsored isolation.
It was under him that the UAE opened its embassy in Zimbabwe in 2019, marking an elevation of strong relations which have grown in strength since then.
When Cyclone Idai struck in March 2019, President Mnangagwa was on a state visit to the UAE which was supposed to last for three days. However, President Mnangagwa cut short his trip on the second day.
Learning of the occurrence, the UAE sent two plane loads with humanitarian assistance for the survivors.
Since then, the two countries have continued to elevate cooperation on the economic front. According to recent statistics by the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (Zimstat) the UAE has overtaken South Africa as Zimbabwe’s largest importer.
The UAE currently accounts for 36,4 percent of Zimbabwe’s exports, while South Africa follows close with 30,5 percent.