The emir of Dubai, Sheik Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum, died Wednesday while visiting Australia, the president's office said.
The emir, 62, was a vice president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates and ruler of Dubai. He is expected to be succeeded by his younger brother, the crown prince of Dubai, Sheik Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Emirates' defense minister and a high-flying businessman and breeder of horses.
"The United Arab Emirates today lost a historical leader who devoted his life to establishing the United Arab Emirates and enhancing its structure and the welfare of its people," the Emirates government said in a statement.
His body was expected to be flown back home later Wednesday. A spokesman for Brisbane airport, Jim Carden, said the shiekh's private Boeing 747-400 was ready for the trip.
The official WAM news agency said an official mourning period of 40 days has been declared and government offices will be closed for seven days, starting Wednesday.