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UAE president Nahyan dies

United Arab Emirates President Sheik Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan salutes in a photo taken last March.
United Arab Emirates

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (CNN) -- Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan, president and founder of the United Arab Emirates, has died after many years of poor health, according to his office. He was about 90.

The cause of his death on Tuesday was not revealed.

Nahyan had not attended Arab summits for some time because of his ill health. In August 2000, he had a kidney transplant.

Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahyan, a son of Nahyan, will automatically take over as ruler of the capital, after being designated previously by his father.

Under the UAE constitution, Vice President and Prime Minister Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid al-Maktoum, ruler of Dubai, will act as president until the federal council, which represents rulers of the seven emirates, meets within 30 days to elect a new president.

Nahyan, ruler of Abu Dhabi since 1966, was the founding leader of the United Arab Emirates, which he had ruled since the seven emirates forged a union and received independence from Britain in 1971.

Beginning in the late 1960s, the oil boom transformed Abu Dhabi into a cosmopolitan city, and prompted politically ambitious Nahyan family members to settle in the capital, where many of them obtained positions in the expanding emirate and federal bureaucracies

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