x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Prayers for Sheikh Ahmed begin today

Prayers for Sheikh Ahmed will begin at the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, according to WAM. There will be a three-day period of mourning.

Funeral prayers for Sheikh Ahmed bin Zayed will be held at the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque today.
Funeral prayers for Sheikh Ahmed bin Zayed will be held at the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque today.

Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, the President of the UAE and Ruler of Abu Dhabi, yesterday announced the death of Sheikh Ahmed bin Zayed, his younger brother after his body was recovered from a lake in Morocco, four days after he was involved in a glider crash. Funeral prayers for Sheikh Ahmed, 41, the managing director of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA), will be held at the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque today, beginning three days of mourning. Last night, Sheikh Ahmed's body was being flown home on an official UAE plane, accompanied by two members of the Royal Family. The aircraft was due to land in Abu Dhabi early this morning, a Moroccan official said. The Sheikh's body was found by Moroccan and French divers in water about 60 metres deep. Soon after the discovery, Sheikh Ahmed's death was officially announced. UAE television stations interrupted programming to announce the news, and will broadcast recitations of the Quran until midnight on Friday. Flags will be flown at half-staff beginning today. Schools and government offices will remain open and sports fixtures would go ahead, officials said. However, some shows and concerts have been cancelled or postponed. Khalid Naciri, the Moroccan communications minister, said his government had launched an investigation into Sheikh Ahmed's death, noting that the findings would be made public. Emergency workers from several countries, including the UAE, Spain and the United States, as well as Morocco, took part in the four-day search in the silted waters of the Sidi Mohammed ben Abdellah dam, hampered by heavy rainfall and the tree-studded bottom of the man-made lake. Last Friday's crash occurred near Oum Azza, a village that Sheikh Ahmed had visited regularly. The lake, near farmland and valleys, is a popular spot for recreation and fishing. A Spanish man, described by officials as the glider's co-pilot, suffered only minor injuries in the crash and is in a stable condition. Although several fishermen witnessed the crash, it was difficult to pinpoint exactly where the Sheikh's body came to rest, officials said. Many fishermen took part in the search. Sheikh Ahmed was born in Al Ain in 1969. He graduated from UAE University. Sheikh Ahmed joined ADIA in 1991 and became its managing director in 1997, taking control of one of the largest sovereign wealth funds in the world, estimated to be worth up to US$500 billion (Dh1.8 trillion), although the exact figure has never been disclosed. Sheikh Ahmed was 27th on 2009's Forbes list of the world's most powerful people. But residents near the Moroccan estate where he was staying said he was known for his generosity. In 1996, he was named chairman of the Zayed Foundation for Charitable and Humanitarian Works. In 2005, he became a member of the Supreme Petroleum Council. Sheikh Ahmed's only son, Zayed, was born in 2008. Hazza al Qahtani, the director general of the Foreign Aid Co-ordination Office, said Sheikh Ahmed "embodied the spirit of philanthropy and compassion for those less fortunate" - a legacy of his father, Sheikh Zayed, founder of the country. "I want to extend our deepest condolences following the tragic loss of His Highness Sheikh Ahmed," Mr al Qahtani said. "Under his leadership, the Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Charitable and Humanitarian Foundation provided much-needed aid and development projects for those less fortunate around the world." Fardan al Fardan, the deputy director of the property department at ADIA, said of Sheikh Ahmed: "What distinguished him was the way he handled people and the way he chose people around him. He took time to evaluate things. Under his leadership, ADIA changed a lot how it does business. He surrounded himself with a very qualified group of young Emiratis that he trained and made sure that they got a good education. That says a lot for him." Among those offering condolences were: King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia; the Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak; King Abdullah of Jordan; the Palestinian ambassador to the UAE, Dr Khairi al Arirdi; and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish prime minister. Condolences were offered from the court of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Saud Bin Rashid, Ruler of Umm al Qaiwain, Sheikh Hamad bin Mohammed, Ruler of Fujairah, Sheikh Humaid bin Rashid, Ruler of Ajman and Sheikh Saqr bin Mohammed, Ruler of Ras al Khaimah. * With additional reporting by Hassan Hassan and Zoi Constantine