Exiled former crown prince of UAE emirate Ras Al Khaimah Sheikh Khalid bin Saqr al-Qasimi has returned to Ras al-Khaimah to reclaim 'birthright' from half-brother, after his 92 year-old father and ruler, died. The exiled prince failed in his attempt.


Immediately after the 92-year-old sheikh died at dawn, his eldest son, the exiled crown prince, Sheikh Khalid bin Saqr al-Qasimi, re-entered the emirate and went to the presidential palace in a bid to reclaim what he believes is his birthright from his younger half-brother, who has claimed the crown. It follows a 2-year public relations campaign by the exiled prince aimed at returning him to power.


RAK is the smallest of the seven emirates, but Sheikh Khalid, who has been living in exile in London and Oman, has used Californian PR firms, Washington lobbyists and American ex-special forces officers to claim it has fallen under Iranian influence and that the emirate was used as a port for smuggling parts for weapons into Iran and had become a "centre of gravity" for "potential terrorist funding for al-Qaida, Taliban, al-Shabaab". The campaign also involved lobbying Hillary Clinton and the Israeli ambassador to London and publishing critical reports on the military and political direction of the current regime.


The Abu-Dhabi led federal government issued a statement of condolence through the state news agency WAM, which stated that Sheikh Khalid's younger half-brother, the crown prince Sheikh Saud bin Saqr al-Qasimi, has succeeded as ruler. Sheikh Khalid did not accept the statement and issued a video message asserting his claim to the throne, and shortly afterwards described the UAE report of Sheikh Saud's succession as unacceptable.


"In honour of my father, I want the constitution on the succession in Ras al-Khaimah to be honoured where the whole family and tribes decide the succession," he said. "I will accept the outcome of a constitutional vote, not a decision taken by others for their own economic benefit … In the coming hours and days, I look forward to meeting with family, friends, members of the supreme council and rulers of the emirates to discuss our shared vision for Ras al-Khaimah and its great people. Until then, we will mourn together as a family, a community and a nation."


Sheikh Saud announced 40 days of mourning during which flags in the emirate will be flown at half mast and radio stations across the UAE switched to playing recitations of the Qur'an and classical music.


October 25, 2010



Analysis and Forecast: Decreasing Risk


The succession of RAK has been one of the potentially most dangerous challenges to face the UAE in recent times. The aging ruler’s death was not unexpected. Sheikh Khalid has visited Abu Dhabi during the past year to lobby the Abu Dhabi government to support him in his bid. Although it is felt that Abu Dhabi authorities were sympathetic to Sheikh Khalid’s cause, fearing the growing Iranian influence in RAK, they feared that by supporting him they would alienate the tribes of RAK, who are both poor and highly religious.


With the UAE federal government firmly supporting Sheikh Saud, reportedly sending UAE army to evict Sheikh Khalid, from RAK, the chances of a bloody coup in RAK have been eliminated, at least temporarily. Whilst Sheikh Khalid may continue in his efforts to undermine the Sheikh Saud’s leadership, the support of the UAE federal government for Sheikh Saud greatly weakens Sheikh Khalid’s attempts.