The body of an Abu Dhabi Sheikh was found in a Moroccan lake Tuesday morning, after his glider crashed into it four days ago.
Sheikh Ahmed bin Zayed al-Nahyan’s remains were recovered after a rescue search involving about 225 people from four different countries, according to Morocco’s state media. The Sheikh was 41 years old.
In the United Arab Emirates, state television was interrupted with readings from the Koran and banners reading, “Sheikh Ahmed…is in the care of God.” The state news agency WAM announced the country will have three days of mourning starting Wednesday, for the younger brother of the President of the UAE and the head of a sovereign fund that made him one of the most powerful people in the world.
Sheikh Ahmed’s the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA), is one of the world’s biggest sovereign funds. The news agency Reuters says it is believed ADIA has assets of between $500 billion and $700 billion. It gets its funds from the UAE’s oil exports.
Last year, the Sheikh was ranked as number 27 on Forbes magazine’s most powerful people list.
Despite his influence, Ahmed was elusive to the media, rarely gave interviews and did not particularly care for being called “Your Highness.”
“He was extremely well respected as part of the work he did for ADIA and it was expected that he would play a vital role in the future development of the emirate as a leading member of the ruling family,” a source told Reuters.
The ruling family of Abu Dhabi owned property in Morocco. It was likely Sheikh Ahmed was vacationing there when he was in his glider over the artificial lake formed from the Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdallah Dam. When the glider crashed, the pilot was rescued but no trace of the Sheikh was found until Tuesday.
Ahmed was the son of the founder of the UAE, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahayan. He worked for ADIA as an analyst before assuming its head. Though the younger brother of the current Abu Dhabi ruler and President of the UAE, Ahmed was not in line to the emirate.
Experts say ADIA will remain within the al-Nahyan family. A successor could be named in about a week.