At the age of 84, Sheikh Khalifa was one of the longest-serving prime ministers in the world, since Bahrain’s independence in 1971.
Former Bahrain Prime Minister Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa has passed away, state media reported. He was 84 years old.
“The Royal Court mourns His Royal Highness … who passed away this morning at Mayo Clinic Hospital in the United States of America,” the Bahrain News Agency said Wednesday, without providing further details.
King Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa of the Gulf state announced an official week-long duel in which flags will be flown at half mast, the agency said.
The funeral ceremony will take place after the repatriation of his body, and the funeral will be limited to a specific number of family members, he said.
Sheikh Khalifa was one of the world’s longest-serving prime ministers, leading the government of his island nation for decades and surviving the 2011 Arab Spring protests demanding his removal on corruption charges.
His stern response to pro-democracy protests and criticism of similar unrest in the Arab world underscored what for many was the defining feature of his career, namely an unshakable defense of dynastic rule. The Al Khalifa family has ruled Bahrain since 1783.
In August, Sheikh Khalifa left the kingdom for what the official media at the time called “a private visit abroad”. Earlier this year, he spent time in Germany for unspecified medical treatment and returned to Bahrain in March.
Bahrain, a staunch ally of neighboring Saudi Arabia and the United States, is also the base of operations for the United States Navy’s Fifth Fleet.