SINGAPORE - President Halimah Yacob and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong sent their condolences to the United Arab Emirates on Saturday (May 14) following the death of President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, a pro-Western moderniser who had aligned the Gulf Arab state closer to the United States and its allies.
Sheikh Khalifa, who was also ruler of the UAE's richest emirate, Abu Dhabi, died on Friday at the age of 73. He was born in 1948 and had rarely been seen in public since suffering a stroke in 2014.
In her letter to the new ruler of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President Halimah noted that as the "second president of the UAE, His Highness built upon the strong foundations laid by His Highness, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, to strengthen the unity of the UAE and enhance its development".
"Throughout his life, His Highness was dedicated to serving the people of the UAE and to bring prosperity to the country. His Highness will always be remembered for his love and care for the people," she said.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with Your Highness and the people of the UAE during this time of bereavement," Madam Halimah said.
PM Lee in his letter noted that Sheikh Khalifa dedicated his life to serving the people of Abu Dhabi as well as the UAE.
"His Highness played a key role in strengthening the unity of the federation and improving the lives of his people," PM Lee said.
"During His Highness' reign, relations between Singapore and the UAE were strengthened with the establishment of the Singapore Embassy in Abu Dhabi in 2007," he added.
Sheikh Khalifa's leadership also laid a strong foundation for bilateral relations, which have since been elevated with the Singapore-UAE Comprehensive Partnership signed in 2019, PM Lee said.
In a separate letter to the ruler of Dubai, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, PM Lee said Sheikh Khalifa played an important role and bore witness to the progress and prosperity enjoyed by the UAE since its establishment in 1971.
"During his term, the UAE also played an active role in regional affairs including providing humanitarian assistance through organisations such as the Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Foundation," PM Lee said, adding that Sheikh Khalifa's service and dedication to his people remain "an inspiration" not only in the UAE but also around the world.
"On behalf of the Government of Singapore, I would like to extend my deepest condolences to Your Highness, the government and people of the UAE during this period of grief," PM Lee said.