Bin Zayed Group have potential to be the best thing to ever happen to Newcastle United
Since the news broke on Sunday night that a Newcastle United takeover was apparently set to happen, taken over by a royal family member based in the Gulf, my interest was piqued as to just who this family member is.
Obviously the first reason is that I support Newcastle United, and like the rest of us on here, I want to know everything that is going on at the club.
The second reason is that Middle Eastern family trees just so happen to be my only area of expertise.
At first, the answer to the question of who is Khaled bin Zayed appeared to be a simple one. Within the main branch of the Abu Dhabi Royal Family, that is the direct descendants (sons and grandsons) of the founder of modern day UAE, Zayed bin Sultan Al Nayan, is Khalid bin Sultan bin Zayed, the grandson of and a nephew of Sheikh Mansour (owner of Manchester City).
However, he was surely too young and so the next thought was that names must have been misunderstood and the man actually buying Newcastle United was Khalifa bin Zayed, the half brother of Mansour and son of the founder of UAE Zayed bin Sultan.
However, on closer inspection that turned out to be completely unrealistic for a variety of reasons – number one being that the 71 year old has no interest, and has never had an interest in buying a football club.
Are you confused yet? If yes, then this is how I felt when I began my Saudi Arabian family tree journey a few years ago. Without boring you, one day at university I just couldn’t quite figure out who was who within the Saudi royal family (largely due to the inter-marital nature of the family and frequent repetition of the same family names), so I jotted a quick family tree down on a piece of paper. Eventually this turned into a few pieces of A3, and before I knew it, I had my own interactive family tree which to this date details 912 members of the Saudi royal family and is one of the biggest in the world.
From this research I have built up a few contacts within the Gulf who are always great when getting opinions on all manner of things. Rarely do they have groundbreaking information but have always been fantastic in providing a Gulf perspective on things.
Anyway, who is Khaled bin Zayed, the man apparently buying Newcastle United.
An unofficial rule on how names work in the UAE/KSA is that you take the name of your paternal ancestor, and generally stop once you reach a person of note. In Saudi Arabia your paternal name stops invariably once you reach a former (or current) King, and it is the same in UAE. So the fact that Khaled bin Zayed bin Saqr Al Nayhan ends his paternal line of lineage with ‘Saqr’ demonstrates that he derives from Saqr bin Zayed Al Nayhan, the former ruler of Abu Dhabi from 1926-1928.
While there are no official records open to the public on the fact that Saqr had a son named Zayed, to those of us familiar with how lineage works in the region, this is just a given. This is how is how we are able to work out who Khaled bin Zayed is, and where he derives from in the grand scheme of the Abu Dhabi royal family.
In reference to Sheikh Mansour, who is the son of Zayed bin Sultan, and therefore the grandson of Sultan bin Zayed (the brother of Saqr bin Zayed), this places Khaled and Mansour as 2nd generation cousins connected by the fact that their paternal grandfathers were brothers.
I hope this has put to bed the Sky Sports claim from their sources that there is no relation between the two. I think a logical explanation as to why Keith Downie published this, was that I assume his sources were those within Mansour’s camp trying to distance themselves from the news surrounding Newcastle United.
The Family Tree
I think one thing to be wary of is any article within the mainstream media along the lines of ‘Who is KBZ’ or ‘Things you should know’ or ‘What to expect from KBZ’ because the truth is that nobody has the faintest idea. Families within the Gulf are incredibly private and they have built up successful governments over many years exactly on that basis.
Another question I am sure people will have is, is this legit?
I would say yes it is definitely is. This is a family who do not want to embarrass themselves, or stick their heads above the water for reasons that are not deemed necessary.
I am happy to admit that I have been in touch with Midhat Kidwai (Managing Director of the Bin Zayed Group) via WhatsApp since the start of the week, and although he has not given me any information that has not been included in Bin Zayed Group official statements, it is very much the case that this is real.
The only way this could not be real is if we dive very very deep into conspiracy theory territory and suggest that, due to some link that we do not know about between Ashley and KBZ, they have colluded together to create a mythical takeover in order to divert attention away from transfers/Rafa. That is an incredibly far stretch which has no evidence to support it.
I do not claim to have any inside knowledge of what is going on at NUFC, or in the Middle East, I am simply in a position to say where in the family this guy comes from.
I would urge any NUFC fans out there to remain sceptical until HRH himself is stood on the SJP pitch with a black and white scarf above his head.
One thing I will say though is that if these guys do take over, I think it would have the potential to be the best thing to ever happen to Newcastle United.
You can follow the author on Twitter @JonathanComyn
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