President Halimah Yacob and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong sent letters of condolence to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) yesterday following the death of President 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.
In her letter to the new ruler of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Madam Halimah noted that Sheikh Khalifa, as the "second president of the UAE", "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".
She said of the late ruler: "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."
Addressing the new ruler, Madam Halimah said: "Our thoughts and prayers are with Your Highness and the people of the UAE during this time of bereavement."
PM Lee, in his letter to Sheikh Mohamed, noted that Sheikh Khalifa had dedicated his life to the service of 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."
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 Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, PM Lee said Sheikh Khalifa played an important role in 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 remains an inspiration not only in the UAE but 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.