The 51-year-old Qalibaf is the current mayor of the capital, Tehran.
Qalibaf, who is considered a moderate conservative, was also a senior commander in the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).
In 1996, Khamenei appointed Qalibaf as the IRGC air force's commander, after which he trained as a pilot. He held the post for three years.
In Iran's 2005 presidential race, he took just 14 percent of the vote, failing to reach the second round.
Qalibaf has attracted growing support within the clerical establishment because of his management skills.
Qalibaf, who was born in northeastern Iran, holds a doctorate in political geography from Tehran University.