Middle East

United Arab Emirates leader travels abroad on 'private' trip

The leader of the United Arab Emirates, who has rarely been seen in public since suffering a stroke three years ago, has left the country on a "private visit" abroad.

The state-run WAM news agency says Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan left Wednesday. It did not elaborate.

Sheikh Khalifa was born in 1948 and became president after his father, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, died in 2004. He is also the ruler of Abu Dhabi, the oil-rich capital of the seven UAE sheikhdoms.

Sheikh Khalifa suffered a stroke on Jan. 24, 2014, and underwent emergency surgery. He went abroad for several months last year and made a weeklong trip abroad in January.

The UAE is a strong Western ally and hosts American troops fighting the Islamic State group.