Sheikh Tahnun bin Shakhbut Al Nahyan Biography

Sheikh Tahnun bin Shakhbut Al Nahyan ruled Abu Dhabi from the year 1818 to 1833. After deposing his brother Muhammad bin Shakhbut Al Nayhan with the help of his father, he started ruling under his fathers name. Abu Dhabi had become a Trucial state under his rule in the year 1820. It was eventually called as the capital if United Arab Emirates.

Real Name Sheikh Tahnun bin Shakhbut Al Nahyan
Birth Place UAE
Reign 1818–1833
Predecessor Muhammad bin Shakhbut Al Nahyan
Successor Khalifa bin Shakhbut Al Nahyan
Died 1833
House Al Nahyan
Father Shakhbut bin Dhiyab Al Nahyan


After exiling his brother with his fathers support, Tahnun acceded to the throne. Following the sack of Ras Al Khaimah and bombardment of Coastal communities during inflicting British Persian Gulf Campaign in 1819, Shakhbut was the signatory to landmark General Maritime Treaty of 1820 with British. Although, Tahnun signed a peace agreement with sultan Bin Saqr Al Qasimi of Sharjah over forts at Buraimi Oasis in 1824.

Abu Dhabi attacked

In late 1823, the exiled Sheikh Muhammad bin Shakhbut, with a force of Manasir Bedouin, returned to Abu Dhabi and sacked the town. However, he lost 35 men before being dispelled by Tahnun.


Tahnun was continuously trying to build his influence during the development of Abu Dhabi by negotiating peace between Nuamani of Oasis and their relatives, the Al Nuami of Ajman and Al Bu Shamis as numerous settlers were connected to inland oasis town of Buraimi (which would divide into Buraimi and Abu Dhabi).

Several interests bumped for Buraimi. the Wahhabis (who had made a number of incursions) and Sultan bin Saqr of Sharjah, who had established a number of forts in the oasis and Sultan of Muscat. Loyalty of several Bedouin families was called on by Tahnun and that Dhahirah belonged to them was recalled to British in 1839. He established his primacy there in 1824 , when an alleged agreement on Sharjah made Sultan bin Saqr recognised Tahnun’s claim to Buraimi and then demolished the forts he had built there.


Being mistrustful, Tahnun kept his brothers Sheikh Khalifa bin Shakhbut Al Nahyan and Sultan bin Shakhbut, Tahnun away from Abu Dhabi. However his father always exhorted their return. He, being aware of their planning of eliminating him, incarcerated many of them which urged them to intercede and Tahnun was eliminated in 1833 by his two brothers. The Khalifa was the next ruler of Abu Dhabi after him.