Who are Sheikh Shakhbout and Khalifa Al Marar, the UAE's new Ministers of State?

A young former ambassador to Saudi Arabia and a long-serving diplomat take up new portfolios

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The UAE announced new foreign ministers of state in a 'mini-shuffle' of the Cabinet on Wednesday.

Sheikh Shakhbout bin Nahyan, former ambassador to Saudi Arabia, will take up the post of Minister of State alongside Khalifa Al Marar, previously assistant minister of political affairs.

They were sworn in after Dr Anwar Gargash and Zaki Nusseibeh were appointed as advisers to the President Sheikh Khalifa.

Together they will work to strengthen the UAE's position and build diplomatic capacity

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai and Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, on Wednesday presided over the swearing-in.

Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation said: "Al Marar has worked in the diplomatic service since 1978. Sheikh Shakhbout, who is part of the new generation at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, has proven his ability by consolidating relations with the brotherly Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, to which he served as Ambassador, and for which he was the subject of much praise."

Sheikh Abdullah added: "Their excellencies will join the other Ministers of State in managing the foreign policies of the UAE, in support of the political positions of the UAE and its relationships with international partners. Together they will work to strengthen the UAE’s position and build diplomatic capacity to uphold the interests of the state and its citizens abroad."

Sheikh Shakhbout and Khalifa Al Marar have been appointed to their new roles "due to their experience and outstanding achievements" at the ministry, according to Sheikh Abdullah. So who are they?

Sheikh Shakhbout

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates - March 02, 2019: Sheikh Shakhbout bin Nahyan Al Nahyan, UAE Ambassador to Saudi Arabia at the OIC Ministerial Meeting. Saturday the 2nd of March 2019 at Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Sheikh Shakhbout bin Nahyan previously served as the UAE ambassador to Saudi Arabia. He was appointed in 2017.

In 2019, he told The National "the sky is the limit" when it comes to his country's relationship with the neighbouring Kingdom.

Prior to that, he worked in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation between 2013 and 2014.

An elite level show jumper, he has also served as president of the UAE Equestrian and Racing Federation.

Sheikh Shakhbout holds a BA in applied science and applied media studies from the Higher Colleges of Technology in Abu Dhabi and a graduate diploma from the Emirates Diplomatic Academy (now named after Dr Anwar Gargash) in 2017.

Khalifa Al Marar

Khalifa Al Marar hosts a regional meeting on counter terrorism in Abu Dhabi in November, 2018. He has served as a diplomat and foreign affairs official since 1978. Wam

Khalifa Al Marar started his diplomatic career in 1978 as an attaché at the UAE Embassy in Japan.

He has served as UAE Ambassador to Syria, Iran and Turkey, and Non-Resident Ambassador to Armenia.

Al Marar holds a bachelor degree in business administration and economy from the University of Sophia in Japan and a master’s degree in political economy from the New School of Social Research in New York, USA.