Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum

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This is an Arabic name; the family name is Al Maktoum.
Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum
Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.jpg
Sheikh Mohammed in 2003
Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates
Assumed office
11 February 2006
President Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan
Preceded by Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum
Personal details
Born (1949-07-22) 22 July 1949 (age 65)
Dubai, Trucial States
(now United Arab Emirates)
Spouse(s) Hind bint Maktoum bin Juma Al Maktoum (1979–present)
Haya bint Al Hussein (2004–present)
Parents Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum
Religion Sunni Islam

Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum (Arabic محمد بن راشد آل مكتوم; Muḥammad bin Rāshid al Maktūm), also Sheikh Mohammed, (born 15 July 1949) is the Vice President of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and constitutional monarch of Dubai.[1] He has held those positions since January 2006, when he succeeded his elder brother, Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum. In February 2006, he became Prime Minister of the UAE.

Early life and education[edit]

He is the third of Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum's four sons (members of Dubai's ruling Al Maktoum family and descendants of the House of Al-Falasi, of which he is the tribal leader).[2] From the age of four, Sheikh Mohammed was privately tutored in Arabic and Islamic Studies. In 1955, he began his formal education at Al Ahmedia School. At the age of 10, he moved to Al Shaab School, and two years later, he went to Dubai Secondary School. In 1966, with his cousin Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum, he attended the Bell Educational Trust's English Language School in the United Kingdom.[3] He subsequently studied at the Mons Officer Cadet Training School, (which later was subsumed into Sandhurst), passing out with honours.

Minister of Defence[edit]

On his return to Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed was appointed by his father Sheikh Rashid as head of Dubai Police and also the Dubai Defence Force, which was later to become part of the Union Defence Force.

In January 1968 he was present when Sheikh Rashid and Sheikh Zayed first met in the desert between Dubai and Abu Dhabi at Argoub El Sedira[4] to agree the formation of a union of emirates following British withdrawal from the Trucial States. He went on, when the new nation of the United Arab Emirates was founded on December 2, 1972, to become its first Minister of Defence.[5]

Union Defence Force[edit]

His first major challenge in his Minister of Defence post came on the 24th January 1972, when the exiled former ruler of Sharjah Sheikh Saqr bin Sultan Al Qasimi led an insurrectionist coup against the ruler, Sheikh Khalid bin Mohammed Al Qasimi.[6] Following a spirited firefight between the Union Defence Force and Sheikh Saqr's forces - mostly Egyptian mercenaries who had entered the UAE through Ras Al Khaimah[4] - Sheikh Mohammed accepted Sheikh Saqr's surrender.[6] Sheikh Khalid had been killed in the action, leading to the accession of his brother Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi as Ruler of Sharjah.


In 1973, Sheikh Mohammed was involved in protracted negotiations with the hijackers of JAL 404, led by Japanese Red Army member Osamu Maruouka, which landed in Dubai after being hijacked as it departed Schipol. Although unsuccessful in having the hijackers release their hostages (they were finally freed, and the 747 blown up, in Libya), he was successful in negotiating with the three hijackers of KML 861, who released the balance of hostages and handed over the plane in return for safe passage.[7]

Launch of Emirates Airline[edit]

As well as his defence role, Sheikh Mohammed oversaw Dubai's energy resources and was in charge of Dubai Civil Aviation. It was in this latter role, in March 1985, that he tasked the then head of DNATA, Maurice Flanagan, with launching a new airline to be called Emirates after a dispute with Gulf Air over Dubai's 'Open Skies' policy. The launch budget of the airline was $10 million (the amount Flanagan said he needed to launch an airline) and its inaugural flight took place on 25 October.[8] Sheikh Mohammed made his (younger) uncle, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Chairman of the new company. A further $75 million in facilities and materials was provided, but Emirates has always maintained it has received no further subsidies throughout the company's meteoric growth to become one of the world's leading airlines.[8]

Himself a keen aviator and qualified pilot, in 1989 Sheikh Mohammed inaugurated the first Dubai Airshow: in 2013 the exhibition had grown to over 1,000 companies exhibiting and was the venue for Emirates' placement of the largest aeroplane orders in history, with $99 billion in orders placed with Airbus for its A380 and Boeing for its wide-bodied 777.

Dubai Ports World[edit]

In 1991, Sheikh Mohammed merged the the Jebel Ali Port and Free Zone and Port Rashid to form the Dubai Ports Authority. In 1999 he founded Dubai Ports International to explore overseas acquisitions and management contracts, which in 2005 was folded into the Dubai Ports Authority to form DP World. In 2006 the company acquired P&O for $7 billion. A highly profitable global enterprise,[9] DP World today is one of the largest marine terminal operators in the world. The company operates more than 60 terminals across six continents, with container handling generating some 80% of its revenue.

The Burj Al Arab and Jumeirah[edit]

The Burj Al Arab was inaugurated in December 1999. The hotel, constructed to a design by WS Atkins in response to a brief from Sheikh Mohammed to create a truly iconic building, styles itself as 'the world's most luxurious hotel'. It was constructed on an island offshore from the Jumeirah Beach Hotel, the first property managed by Jumeirah,[10] the hotel management company launched by Sheikh Mohammed in 1997 and headed by ex-Trust House Forte executive Gerald Lawless. In fact, work began on both hotels at the same time, but the island to house the Burj Al Arab required three years to build before construction began above ground. Jumeirah's international expansion, driven after it became part of Dubai Holding in 2004,[11] has since been significant, to encompass 22 hotels in ten countries.[12]

Dubai Internet City[edit]

On the 29th October 1999, Sheikh Mohammed announced Dubai Internet City, a technology hub and free trade zone. Offering companies long leases, full ownership and fast access to government services, DIC quickly grew from its first tenants in October 2000 to a current zone employing some 15,000 people.[13] It was joined in November 2000 by Dubai Media City, a content and media production free zone which is co-located with DIC. The launch of DMC came with assurances from Sheikh Mohammed regarding media freedoms. In fact, in 2007, he issued a decree banning the imprisonment of journalists following an incident in which local journalists were accused of libel and sentenced to jail terms.[14]

A number of other media and technology-related free zones have since been established in Dubai, including the International Media Production Zone, Dubai Silicon Oasis and Dubai Studio City.

Political career[edit]

On 3 January 1995, Sheikh Mohammed's elder brother Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum signed two decrees that appointed Sheikh Mohammed as Crown Prince of Dubai.

During his tenure as Crown Prince he set up Dubai Holding, the holding company with multi-diversified businesses and investments. He currently owns 99.67% of the company.[15]

Sheikh Mohammed oversaw the development of numerous projects in Dubai including the creation of the Palm Islands and the luxury Burj Al Arab hotel. He also promoted the construction of Burj Khalifa, which is now the tallest building in the world; its official opening was on Monday, 4 January 2010.

After roughly a decade of de facto rulership,[16] he became the Ruler of Dubai on 4 January 2006 upon the death of Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum. The following day, the Federal National Council selected him as the new Vice President of the UAE. On 11 February, the Council approved President Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan's nomination of Sheikh Mohammed for Prime Minister.[17]

Marriage and family[edit]

His senior wife is Shaikha Hind bint Maktoum bin Juma Al Maktoum, his first cousin and herself a member of Dubai's ruling family, whom he married in 1979 in a grand wedding ceremony with lavish celebrations which cost around $100 million.[18] Sheikha Hind is mother of 12 of the Sheikh's children including his heir-apparent, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum (born 1982), the Crown Prince of Dubai.

His best-known junior wife is Princess Haya bint Al Hussein, daughter of King Hussein of Jordan and half-sister of King Abdullah II of Jordan, whom he married on 10 April 2004, and with whom he has two children, a daughter, Al-Jalila, born 2 December 2007 and a son, Zayed, born 7 January 2012.[19][20] Sheikh Mohammed announced the arrival of his son Zayed on Twitter.[21] The first woman to represent her native Jordan in international equestrian sport and a participant in the 2000 Summer Olympics in show jumping, she served two terms as President of the International Federation for Equestrian Sports.[22]

Sheikh Mohammed has 23 officially acknowledged children, nine sons and fourteen daughters, of whom the following married into other Middle East royal families:

Sporting and cultural interests[edit]

Al Maktoum, his sons, and his daughters are known to be avid enthusiasts of traditional Arabic poems and arts, and take part in projects to aid developing countries such as Jordan, Egypt, the Palestinian Authority and Yemen. He writes poetry in Arabic in the traditional Nabati style.[23]

They are also sport enthusiasts, especially in horse and camel racing. A keen endurance rider, at the age of 63 Al Maktoum won the 2012 World Endurance Championship over a 160 km course.[24]

In the 15th Asian Games in 2006, his son Rashid took the individual gold in Endurance, his sons Rashid, Ahmed, Majid, and Hamdan took the team gold in Endurance,[25] his niece Latifa took a bronze in Show Jumping,[26] and his daughter Maitha led the UAE team in taekwondo.[27] In 2013 when the UAE National football team won the Gulf Cup, Sheikh Mohammed gave the team 50 million dirhams ($13.7 million). His wife awarded the team a further 25 million dirhams ($6.8 million), while the pair's grandsons contributed 12 million dirhams ($3.3 million).[28]

Thoroughbred horse racing[edit]

Racing silks of Sheikh Mohammed (Darley Stables)

Sheikh Mohammed is a major figure in international Thoroughbred horse racing and breeding. They own Darley Stud, which is the biggest horse breeding operation in the world with farms in the United States, Ireland, England, and Australia. In 1985 he bought the Irish Thoroughbred Park Appeal for an undisclosed sum at the end of her second season. She went on to produce at least nine winners from twelve foals and is the ancestor of many successful horses.[29]

In late 1981, he purchased Gainsborough Stud at Woolton Hill, near Newbury, Berkshire, United Kingdom. He owns Ballysheehan Stud in County Tipperary, Ireland; as well as Gainsborough Farm Inc. in Versailles, Kentucky, United States. His racing operations includes the ownership of Darley Stables and he is the leading partner in his family's Godolphin Stables. Sheikh Mohammed hosts the Dubai World Cup at Meydan Racecourse.

In the UK, his horses have won numerous important Group One races including several of the British Classic Races. His horses have also won the Irish Derby Stakes and the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe and in the United States the 2006 Preakness Stakes with Bernardini.[citation needed] In 2008, he bought the Woodlands Stud empire for more than $460 million.[30]


Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum owns the yacht Dubai, built by the German company Blohm + Voss The yacht is 162m long and is the world’s third largest yacht (2014) and can host up to 115 people including crew.[31]

Net worth[edit]

Dubai princely family
Flag of Dubai.svg

HH The Emir Sheikh
HH Sheikha Hind

HRH Princess Haya of Jordan

HH Sheikh Maktoum

HH Sheikh Hamdan

  • HH Sheikh Rashid
  • HH Sheikh Saeed
  • HH Sheikh Maktoum

HH Sheikh Ahmed

HH Sheikh Mohammed

His family wealth is estimated to be "in excess of" US$4 billion.[32]


Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum has been known for his vast charitable donations. On May 19, 2007, he announced plans to give US$10 billion to set up the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation, an educational foundation in the Middle East.[33] Sheikh Mohammed stated that the money is meant to bridge the knowledge gap between the Arab region and the developed world. The announcement was made at the 2007 World Economic Forum in Jordan.

Dubai Cares[edit]

In September 2007, he launched the Dubai Cares campaign to raise money to educate 1 million children in poor countries. The campaign is Dubai's contribution to the U.N. Millennium Development Goals for providing Children's Primary Education to every child by 2015. The amount donated to this campaign has exceeded AED 1.65 billion (approximately US$450 million).[citation needed]

Noor Dubai[edit]

On September 3, 2008, Sheikh Mohammad also launched a new Ramadan initiative under the name "Noor Dubai", aiming to help the World Health Organization (WHO) and International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) in achieving its goals outlined in VISION 2020: the Right to Sight. Noor Dubai will treat and provide health services to one million people suffering from treatable blindness and visual impairment in developing countries on a local, regional, and international scale.[citation needed]

UAE Pakistan Assistance Program[edit]

On 12 January 2011, the UAE Pakistan Assistance Program was launched in order to help and provide assistance to Pakistan and mitigate the impact of floods by redeveloping infrastructure, according to the directives of Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the President of the United Arab Emirates and Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. The UAE PAP has worked along a comprehensive redevelopment plan that takes into account the harsh geography and the rough weather conditions of the region while focusing on four main areas of social redevelopment: health, education, water and infrastructure. The Program has taken some vital steps to ease the pain and suffering that the people of Swat have become accustomed to as it provided for the construction and rehabilitation of two bridges, 52 schools and 7 hospitals, as well as the implementation of 64 water supply schemes.[34]


In 2000, Sheikh Mohammed funded 4 million for the construction of the Essalaam Mosque in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, which led to a major controversy.[35]

Since 2000, international equestrian athletes affiliated with UNICEF have worked to end the "scourge of modern slavery in mounted sports,"[36] by putting public and diplomatic pressure on Sheikh Mohammed and the UAE government. In 2005, a UNICEF-sponsored programme with the UAE government resulted in the repatriation of hundreds of children formerly enslaved as camel jockeys, and provided them with social services and compensation upon return to their home countries of Pakistan, Sudan, Mauritania, and Bangladesh. The UAE government set aside US$2.7 million in initial funding in 2005 with an additional US$9 million for the second phase, and to enforce compliance, adopted a law officially banning the practice with penalties of jail time and a $US27,200 fine.[37] UNICEF endorsed the UAE’s efforts and expressed the hopes that “the UAE’s programme will serve as a model to other countries in the region, as a means of ending all forms of exploitation of children”.[38] In September 2006, Sheikh Mohammed was accused of encouraging the abduction and enslavement of thousands of boys for use as jockeys in camel races. A class-action suit was filed against him in the US state of Florida.[39][40][41] However, in 2006, American lawyers representing the UAE raised a motion to dismiss the lawsuiton the grounds that none of the involved parties resided in the U.S. In July 2007, judge Cecilia Altonaga accepted the motion and dismissed the suit.[citation needed]

On 9 March 2007, the London-based Metro newspaper wrongly published a picture of Sheikh Mohammed, attributing it to the terror suspect Khalid Shaikh Mohammed. It has since apologised for the error.[42]

In July 2013, following international pressure and extensive media coverage, Sheikh Mohammed pardoned Marte Dalelv, who, after she reported being raped, was convicted of extramarital sex and alcohol consumption.[43][44]


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  21. ^ Sheikh Mohammed announces arrival of new son Zayed on Twitter The National (8 January 2012).
  22. ^ Staff. "FEI PRESIDENT HRH PRINCESS HAYA". International Federation for Equestrian Sport (FEI). Retrieved 19 October 2014. 
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  44. ^ Atkinson, Simon (22 July 2013). "Dubai rape case Norwegian woman 'free to go'". BBC. Retrieved 31 July 2013. 

Further reading[edit]

  • My Vision - Challenges in the Race for Excellence by Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum (2006); in Arabic; explains the vision of Sheikh Mohammed for Dubai
  • Dubai The Maktoum Story by John M. Smith; in English; a book which criticizes the governance of Sheikh Mohammed

External links[edit]

Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum
Born: 15 July 1949
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum
Emir of Dubai
Political offices
Preceded by
Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum
Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates