The Philippine government, through the Department of Foreign Affairs, expressed Sunday its sympathy to the United Arab Emirates after the death of President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan on Friday.
Khalifa, rarely seen in public in recent years because of health issues, was 73.
His brother and UAE’s de facto ruler, 61-year-old Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, was elected president the following day by the Federal Supreme Council.
“The Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the Filipino nation stand in solidarity with the United Arab Emirates and its people as they mourn the passing of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of UAE,” the DFA statement read.
During his 18 years as President, Sheikh Khalifa steered UAE with wisdom and tolerance towards becoming a global economic powerhouse, the DFA stated.
“His Highness’ legacy has secured a bright future for his country’s future generations,” it added.
Hjayceelyn Quintana, Philippine Ambassador to the UAE, also issued a statement on Saturday, “expressing heartfelt gratitude for what His Highness Sheikh Khalifa has done as the highest leader and great friend of many nations during his illustrious lifetime”.
The two nations have close ties as over 800,000 Filipino workers are in UAE, one of the top remittance sources of the Philippines.
Both have expressed pursuing the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, which will be the platform to reach out to the vast market of the Middle East, including the Gulf Cooperation Council.
The Department of Trade and Industry previously said the Philippines aims to make UAE as the country’s gateway to North Africa through CEPA.
The UAE also thanked the Philippine government for supporting its bid to host the 28th Climate Conference that will focus on highlighting the economic opportunities in climate action, set in Dubai on Nov. 6 to 17, 2023.
Dubai’s 16-story Burj Khalifa, currently the world’s tallest building at over 828 meters or 2,716.5 feet, is named after the late ruler.
UAE is observing a 40-day state mourning with the flag flown at half-mast. Work is suspended at all ministries, departments, and federal, local and private entities for three days until Monday.