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McGregor mourns passing of controversial UAE autocrat: ‘His legacy is historic’

Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan died at age of 73 on Friday, May 13.

2021 MTV Video Music Awards - Arrivals Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

Conor McGregor has expressed his condolences regarding the passing of the president of the United Arab Emirates Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

“I am mourning with the people of the UAE at the passing of Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed,” McGregor tweeted Friday along with a photo of the later UAE ruler. “His legacy is historic.”

Sheikh Khalifa presided over much of the UAE’s economic growth since succeeding his father as the country’s second president in November 2004. He bailed out the debt-ridden Dubai emirate during its financial crisis and supported Bahrain’s monarchy in the face of pro-democracy protests during the 2011 Arab Spring.

However, after suffering a stroke in 2014, he ceased involvement in the presidential affairs of ruling the country. His half-brother, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, replaced him as de-facto ruler and was officially elected as president Saturday.

“We congratulate him, and we pledge allegiance to him, and our people pledge allegiance to him,” Dubai’s ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, said on Twitter after the vote. “The whole country is led by him to take it on the paths of glory and honor, God willing.”

Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed has led much of the country’s foreign policy since his half-brother’s stroke, including the decision to join the Saudi-led war in Yemen and strengthening the UAE’s ties to Israel following a normalization deal in 2020.

Bin Zayed has also been criticized for countless human rights abuses in the autocratic nation. According to Human Rights Watch, UAE citizens and foreign nationals who publicly speak out against the local government are at risk of facing arbitrary detention, forcible disappearances, and torture. The UAE government also limits freedom of expression by using “digital campaigns” such as surveillance technology to monitor dissidents.