Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum

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Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum
Mohamedu bin Rašidu Almaktūmu.jpg
Sheikh Mohammed in 2012
In office5 January 2006 – present
PredecessorMaktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum
PresidentKhalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan
In office11 February 2006 – present
PredecessorMaktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum
PresidentKhalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan
In office9 December 1971 – present
PredecessorPosition established
President
Reign4 January 2006 – present
PredecessorMaktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum
Born (1949-07-15) 15 July 1949 (age 72)
Al Shindagha, Dubai, Trucial States
(now United Arab Emirates)
Spouse
Randa bint Mohammed Al Banna
(m. 1972, divorced)
(m. 1979)
(m. 2004; div. 2019)
  • Delila Aloula (divorced)
  • Houria Ahmed Lamara (divorced)
  • Zoe Grigorakos (divorced)
IssueSee list
Names
Mohamed bin Rashid bin Saeed bin Maktoum Al Maktoum
Arabicمحمد بن راشد ال مكتوم
HouseAl Maktoum
FatherSheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum
MotherLatifa bint Hamdan Al Nahyan
Police career
DepartmentDubai Police Force
Service years1968–1970
RankHead of Dubai Police and Public Security
WebsiteOfficial website

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum (Arabic: محمد بن راشد آل مكتوم‎; Muḥammad bin Rāshid ʾĀl Maktūm; born 15 July 1949) is the Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), its Minister of Defence, and ruler of the Emirate of Dubai.[1] He acceded to the throne in 2006 after the death of his brother Sheikh Maktoum.[2]

He is a billionaire.[3] Most of his income comes from real estate and he is described as "one of the world’s most prominent real estate developers". Land which is owned by him is managed as an asset of the state.[4] There is a blurred line between the assets of the Government of Dubai and those of the ruling Al Maktoum family.[4] He oversaw the growth of Dubai into a global city,[5][6] as well as the launch of a number of major government-owned enterprises including Emirates Airline, DP World, and the Jumeirah Group. Many of these are held by Dubai Holding. Sheikh Mohammed has overseen the development of numerous projects in Dubai including the creation of a technology park, a free economic zone, Dubai Internet City, Dubai Media City,[7] the Dubai International Finance Centre, the Palm Islands[8] and the Burj Al Arab hotel. He also drove the construction of Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world.[9]

Al Maktoum is the absolute monarch of Dubai.[10] His regime is autocratic, as there are no democratic institutions, and internal dissent is prohibited.[11][12][13][14] Al Maktoum is Prime Minister of the UAE, which scholars characterize as an authoritarian regime.[15][16]

On 5 March 2020, a British court ruled that on the balance of probabilities, he had abducted two of his daughters and had threatened his former wife, Princess Haya.[17] His daughters, Shamsa and Latifa, have been alleged to be forcibly medicated while held in Dubai under Al Maktoum's orders since 2000 and 2018, respectively.[18] On 16 February 2021, BBC's Panorama broadcast a documentary featuring Princess Latifa's video messages that she made secretly under enforced detention in Dubai on the orders of Sheikh Mohammed.[19]

A keen equestrian, he is the founder of the Maktoum family-owned Godolphin stable and the owner of Darley, a thoroughbred breeding operation, operational in six countries. In 2012, he rode the horse Madji Du Pont 160 km to take the FEI World Endurance Championship.[20]

Early life[edit]

Sheikh Mohammed has six wives and 30 children,[21] and is the third of Sheikh 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 Sheikh Mohammed is the tribal leader.[22] His mother was Sheikha Latifa bint Hamdan Al Nahyan, daughter of Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, formerly the ruler of Abu Dhabi.[23]

Education[edit]

From the age of four, Al Maktoum 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, went to Dubai Secondary School. In 1966, with his cousin Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum, he attended the Bell Educational Trust's English Language School in the United Kingdom.[24] He subsequently studied at the Mons Officer Cadet School in Aldershot (which later became a part of Sandhurst), passing out with the sword of honour as the top Commonwealth student.[25] He also traveled to Italy to train as a pilot.[26]

Political career[edit]

Dubai Police[edit]

Sheikh Mohammed at the Dubai Air Show in 2007

On his return from military training to Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed's father appointed him as the head of the Dubai Police Force and the Dubai Defence Force, which later became a part of the Union Defence Force.[27][28]

Minister of Defence[edit]

As a young man, 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[29] to agree to the formation of a union of emirates following British notification of intent to withdraw from the Trucial States. When the new nation of the United Arab Emirates was founded on 2 December 1971, he became its first Minister of Defence at the age of 22.[30][28]

A period of uncertainty and instability followed the Union of the United Arab Emirates, including skirmishes between tribes over property, straddling new borders. On 24 January 1972, the exiled former ruler of the Emirate of Sharjah, Saqr bin Sultan Al Qasimi led an insurrectionist coup against the ruler, Khalid bin Mohammed Al Qasimi.[31] Following a spirited firefight between the Union Defence Force and Saqr's forces - mostly Egyptian mercenaries who had entered the UAE through Ras Al Khaimah[29] – Sheikh Mohammed accepted Saqr's surrender.[31] Sheikh Khalid had been killed in the action, leading to the accession of his brother, Sultan bin Muhammad Al-Qasimi, as ruler of Sharjah. Mohammed delivered Saqr to Sheikh Zayed, who put him under house arrest in Al Ain.[32]

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 Schiphol. Although unsuccessful in obtaining the release of the hostages (they were finally freed, and the 747 blown up, in Libya), he was more successful in a later negotiation with the three hijackers of KLM 861, who released the balance of their hostages and handed over the plane in return for safe passage.[33]

In 1977, he oversaw the integration of Dubai's military forces with those of the other emirates.[28]

Crown Prince of Dubai[edit]

Mohammed bin Rashid with then Prime Minister of India Manmohan Singh in March 2010.

On 3 January 1995, Sheikh Mohammed's elder brother Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum signed two decrees appointing him and his brother Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum as Crown Prince of Dubai.[34] Sheikh Mohammed, at the time of being appointed crown prince, also served as Minister of Defence, a position he held since 9 December 1971,[27] following his time as Chief of the Dubai Police Force.[27]

He created the Dubai Shopping Festival in late 1995,[35][36] an annual event that has become a significant contributor to the economy of the UAE.[37][38]

In 2001, Sheikh Mohammed ordered the arrest of Obaid Saqr bin-Busit, the head of Dubai Customs and the chairman of the World Customs Association.[39] Busit and two aides, as well as three other employees, had been the subject of a two-year investigation for corruption. The high-profile arrests caused widespread shock and were followed by a slew of arrests of public officials later that month; in all, fourteen officials, including six senior officers, were arrested and charged with offences related to corruption. Unusually, the officials were publicly 'named and shamed'.[40] In 2008, investigators corruption at government-owned Dubai real estate company Deyaar. The investigation team was granted "unprecedented powers of scrutiny" by Al Maktoum[41] and led to at least four arrests.[42] The CEO of the company was found guilty of earning Dhs20 million by misusing his powers and sentenced to a 10-year jail term.[43]

Al Maktoum has historically made surprise visits to ministerial offices to check on work.[44][45] Finding Dubai Land Department offices empty in 2016,[46] Al Maktoum retired the missing executive directors, all of whom were previously employed by the Dubai Municipality.[47]

Mohammed bin Rashid with then President of Argentina Cristina Fernández de Kirchner in April 2014.
Mohammed bin Rashid with then President of Chile Michelle Bachelet in April 2014.

Ruler of Dubai, Vice President, and Prime Minister[edit]

After roughly a decade of de facto rule, he became the Ruler of Dubai on 4 January 2006, upon the death of Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum.[48] 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.[49]

In April 2007, Sheikh Mohammed announced a strategic review of the Federation's governance at both the Federal and local government levels. The UAE Federal Government Strategy, a process of strategic reform, intended to address a lack of co-ordination and strategic planning in government, as well as policy making issues and deficiencies in the legislative and regulatory framework, would work on improvements in social development, economic development, public sector development, justice and safety, infrastructure, and rural development.[50]

This was followed by the announcement in February 2010 of Vision 2021, a long-term strategy and national agenda.

Typically, foreign residents or 'expatriates' in the United Arab Emirates have renewable visas, valid for two or three years, and tied to their employment.[51] In 2018, Sheikh Mohammed announced five and ten-year visas for sought-after professionals, academicians and long-term investors.[52][53] In May 2019, Sheikh Mohammed announced the 'gold card' or permanent residence visa in the United Arab Emirates.[54] Subject to additional criteria, investors and professionals in healthcare, engineering, science and art would be eligible for permanent residence visa. The permanent residence visa scheme is expected to generate foreign investment, encourage entrepreneurship, and attract engineers, scientists and students of exceptional caliber.[55] 6800 investors whose total investments exceed Dh100b, comprise the first batch of 'gold card' recipients.[56] In March 2021, Al Maktoum announced the Remote Work Visa, a new self-sponsored visa that would allow non-Emirati nationals to live and work remotely from the UAE,[57] even for companies headquartered abroad.[58] He also announced a five year, multiple entry tourist visa for all nationalities, valid for 90 days, suggesting it would “strengthen” the UAE’s economy.[58][59][60]

Al Maktoum is the absolute monarch of Dubai.[10] His regime is described as autocratic, as there are no democratic institutions, and internal dissent is prohibited.[11][12][13][14] Al Maktoum is Prime Minister of the UAE, which scholars characterize as an authoritarian regime.[15][16]According to human rights organizations, there are systematic human rights violations, including the torture and forced disappearance of government critics.[61]

There is a blurred line between the assets of the state of Dubai and those of the Al Maktoum ruling family.[4]

On October 19, 2020, he led the UAE Council of Ministers that ratified a peace agreement with Israel, normalizing diplomatic relationships between the countries.[62]

Business career[edit]

Maktoum at the World Economic Forum Summit on the Global Agenda, 2008

Al Maktoum has overseen the creation and growth of a number of businesses and economic assets of Dubai, with a number held by two companies under his ownership, Dubai World and Dubai Holding. According to the laws of Dubai, the ruling family owns all undeveloped land in Dubai, which has allowed the family to prosper from real estate development.[4] During Sheikh Mohammed's rule, Dubai has seen enormous population growth, causing a real estate boom in Dubai.[63] The boom was in part facilitated by Sheikh Mohammed's 2002 decree that foreigners would be allowed to purchase property in Dubai.[63]

Al Maktoum established Dubai World by decree,[64] leading to the company's launch on 2 July 2006, as a holding company consolidating a number of assets including logistics company, DP World, property developer, Nakheel Properties, and investment company, Istithmar World. With more than 50,000 employees in over 100 cities around the globe, the group has real estate, logistics and other business investments in the United States, the United Kingdom, and South Africa. The company is owned by the government of Dubai.[64]

Sheik Mohammed's personal corporate portfolio is the Dubai Holding Group, which is involved in a variety of investments.[65] Dubai Holding benefits from its association with the ruling family of Dubai, and is given free land by the Dubai government.[4]

He also holds a controlling interest in property developer, asset and event management, and investment company, Meraas Holding, which is currently developing a number of retail, lifestyle and themed developments in Dubai, including Legoland and a Bollywood movie theme park.[66]

Al Maktoum was responsible for the launch of Emirates Airline,[67] as well as heading the development of both, Dubai International Airport and Al Maktoum International Airport. He was also behind the establishment of government-owned low-cost carrier FlyDubai.

Launch of Emirates Airline[edit]

Through the 1970s, as well as his role as head of Dubai Defence Force and UAE Minister of Defence, Al Maktoum oversaw Dubai's energy resources and was in charge of Dubai Civil Aviation. It was in this latter role, in March 1985, that he founded Emirates Airline,[67] tasking 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 1985.[68] Al Maktoum made his (younger) uncle, 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.[68]

In 1989, Al Maktoum inaugurated the first Dubai Airshow. In 2013, the exhibition had grown to over 1,000 exhibiting companies, and was the venue for Emirates' placement of the largest aeroplane order in history, with $99 billion combined orders with Airbus for its A380 and Boeing for its 777X.[69]

Dubai Ports World[edit]

In 1991, Al Maktoum merged 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. The acquisition led to the DP World controversy after a number of US politicians and lobbyists raised concerns regarding the safety of six ports acquired by DP World as part of the acquisition of P&O. DP World subsequently divested the ports in question.

A profitable global enterprise, DP World today is one of the largest marine terminal operators in the world. The company operates more than 77 terminals across six continents, with container handling generating about 80% of its revenue.[70]

Burj Al Arab and Jumeirah[edit]

Burj Al Arab and Jumeirah Beach

The Burj Al Arab was inaugurated in December 1999. The hotel, constructed from a design by WS Atkins in response to a brief from Al Maktoum 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,[71] the hotel management company launched by Al Maktoum 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,[72] encompasses 22 hotels in ten countries.[73]

Dubai Internet City and TECOM[edit]

On 29 October 1999, Al Maktoum announced Dubai Internet City, a technology hub and free trade zone. Offering companies long leases, full ownership, and fast access to government services, DIC grew from its first tenants in October 2000, to a current zone employing about 15,000 people.[74] In November 2000, it was joined by Dubai Media City, a content and media production-free zone, which is co-located with DIC. The launch of DIC came with assurances from Al Maktoum regarding media freedoms. 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.[75]

A number of other media and technology-related free zones have since been established by holding company TECOM in Dubai, including the International Media Production Zone, Dubai Silicon Oasis, Dubai Studio City, Dubai Healthcare City, Dubai Industrial City and Dubai Knowledge Village.

Palm Islands[edit]

Palm Jumeirah seen from space.

Developed by Nakheel Properties, which he founded[67] as part of Dubai World, the development of the three planned Palm Islands was halted by the global financial crisis of 2009. The first of the islands, the Palm Jumeirah, has been completed and developed, while the second, the Palm Jebel Ali, has completed land reclamation, but has not undergone further development. The third and largest Palm, the Palm Deira, has been scaled back and re-launched as the Deira Islands.[76]

Burj Khalifa[edit]

On 4 January 2010, Al Maktoum opened Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building, with a display of about 10,000 fireworks. It forms the centre of the $20 billion downtown Dubai development of mixed use towers, buildings, and retail outlets. The development is also home to the world's largest shopping mall by total area in the world, The Dubai Mall. Originally conceived as a development around an 80-story tower, Al Maktoum says that he sent the project team away to return with "the greatest neighbourhood known to man".[77] He has said of the tower that it is "a national accomplishment, a historic milestone and a key economic turning point. It is a symbol of pride, not only to the Emirati people but to all Arabs."[77]

Interests, activities and philanthropic work[edit]

The Mohammed Bin Rashid Global initiatives (MBRGI)[edit]

The Mohammed Bin Rashid Global Initiatives is a charitable foundation which consolidates the work of some 33 charitable foundations, entities and initiatives which, together, implement more than 1,400 development programs, contributing to the support of more than 130 million people in 116 countries in collaboration with over 280 strategic partners, including governmental institutions, private sector companies, as well as regional and international organizations.[78]

Mohammed bin Rashid School of Government[edit]

The Mohammed bin Rashid School of Government (previously the Dubai School of Government) is an academic and research institution in the area of public policy and administration focused on the United Arab Emirates and the Arab world. Established in 2005, the School aims to promote and support excellence in governance through enhancing the region's capacity for effective public policy.

Toward this goal, the school maintains ties, and collaborates with, regional and global institutions in its research and training programs, and organizes policy forums and international conferences to facilitate the exchange of ideas and promote critical debate on public policy in the Arab world.[79]

The school supports research and teaching programs including: applied research and master's degree in public policy and management; executive education for senior officials and executives; and knowledge forums for scholars and policy makers.

Aid to Palestine[edit]

Al Maktoum has made a number of charitable donations to Palestinian causes in its struggle against Israel.[80] This includes a grant of 600 houses to Gaza following the 2008-2009 Gaza war,[81] when he cancelled New Year celebrations and the official opening of the Dubai Shopping Festival to mark solidarity with the Palestinians, as well as donations for Palestinian refugees from the 1948 Palestinian exodus. Reflecting widespread public reaction to the events, and part of a groundswell of donations from prominent Emirati citizens, he also dedicated his victory and prize money from winning a major endurance race in Bahrain on 10 January 2009 to the Palestinian people.[82]

He has frequently alluded to the need to pursue a two-state solution and negotiate a settlement to the Palestinian issue before any normalisation of relations with Israel.

Aid to Afghanistan[edit]

Having called for US restraint in Afghanistan both in public and in meetings with US officials,[83] Al Maktoum moved to donate $2m for temporary housing for those displaced by the US bombing campaign of 2001/2002.[84] The move sparked a wave of donations from wealthy and notable Emiratis[85] as news of widespread dislocation and need by Afghan civilians as a result of the strikes spread and led to the establishment of a village in Kandahar to house displaced families. The following year, some 15,000 refugees were repatriated from the Afghan/Pakistan border where they had been housed in the temporary accommodation.

Aiding mosque construction in the Netherlands[edit]

In 2000, Al Maktoum donated €4 million for the construction of the Essalaam Mosque in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.[86][87]

In June 2017, two new initiatives were added to the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives, within the "Empowering Communities" sector, namely the International Institute for Tolerance and the Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Award for Tolerance. In this respect, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum issued Law No. (9) of 2017 on the Establishment of the International Institute for Tolerance and Decree No. (23) of 2017 on the Formation of a Board of Trustees and Decree No. (28) of 2017 on the Appointment of a Managing Director for the International Institute for Tolerance. In this respect, Law No. (9) of 2017 includes the launch of the Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Award for Tolerance, administered in accordance with the provisions and statute of said Law. Hence, the establishment of the International Institute for Tolerance aims at instilling a spirit of tolerance across the community, building a cohesive society, strengthening the UAE's standing and position as a model of tolerance, as well as renouncing extremism and all forms of discrimination among people on the basis of religion, sex, race, color or language, in addition to honoring all entities and institutions contributing to the promotion of tolerance and open, interfaith dialogue.[88]

Sporting interests[edit]

Sheikh Mohammed is a major figure in international thoroughbred horse racing and breeding. He owns Darley Stud, 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.[89]

Al Maktoum had raced horses as a child (he would share his breakfast with his horse on the way to school)[90] but he attended his first formal race at Newmarket in 1967, with his brother Hamdan, watching Royal Palace win the 2,000 guineas.[91] Becoming an owner in his own right, ten years later he won his first race with Hatta at Brighton. And five years after that, he and Hamdan had three studs and 100 horses under training.[92]

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 include the ownership of Darley Stables and he is the leading partner in his family's Godolphin Stables. Al Maktoum hosts the Dubai World Cup at Meydan Racecourse.

By 1992, Al Maktoum had started 'wintering' his horses in Dubai, frequently against the advice of trainers and pundits in the UK. The results were a string of high-profile wins, and by 1994 he founded Godolphin. In 1995, his hands-on approach to racing resulted in a major split with leading trainer Henry Cecil after a disagreement over racing a horse Mohammed insisted was injured. Cecil took the argument public and Mohammed removed all his horses from Cecil's stable.[93]

Godolphin's first win, Balanchine taking the Oaks at Epsom Downs, England, in 1994, was to mark the beginning of a winning streak with horses such as: Lammtarra, Daylami, Fantastic Light, Street Cry, Sulamani, Dubawi, and Ramonti among them. Dubai Millennium, said to be Al Maktoum's favourite, won nine of his ten starts before succumbing to injury followed by grass sickness in 2001.[94]

In 1996, the Dubai World Cup was inaugurated as the world's richest horserace, drawing the legendary American dirt track horse Cigar to race in Dubai. Today, held at the Meydan Racecourse, the race meeting carries a prize of $27 million.

In the UK, his horses have won Group One races including several of the British Classic Races. His horses have also won the Irish Derby Stakes, the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe and, the 2006 Preakness Stakes with Bernardini in the US. In 2008, he bought the Woodlands Stud empire for more than $460 million.[95]

Mohammed bin Rashid participating in an endurance riding.

At the age of 63, Al Maktoum won the 2012 World Endurance Championship over a 160 km course.[96] Both his thoroughbreds and endurance horses have failed drug tests – although his trainers (including Mahmood Al Zarooni) have accepted the blame. His endurance racing stable has also been involved in other scandals, including both fatal injuries, and ringers.[97]

In 2015, the FEI suspended the United Arab Emirates following a series of scandals.[98]

In the 15th Asian Games in 2006, his son Rashid took the individual gold in endurance riding. His sons Rashid, Ahmed, Majid, and, Hamdan took the team gold in endurance riding,[99] his niece Latifa took a bronze in show jumping,[100] and his daughter Maitha led the UAE team in taekwondo.[101] In 2013 when the UAE National football team won the Gulf Cup, Al Maktoum 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).[102]

Due to his interest in sports creativity, an award was given in his name every year to the emerging, professional athletes and sports organisations named Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Creative Sports Award.

Godolphin's Cross Counter, ridden by Kerrin McEvoy and trained by Charlie Appleby won the 2018 Melbourne Cup.[103][104]

Support of the arts[edit]

Al Maktoum is a poet in classical Arabic as well as the Bedouin (colloquial) Nabati style,[105] and has published some of his poetry in his Nabati as well as in English.[106] He started writing poetry as a young man, using pseudonyms such as 'Saleet' so his poetry would not be associated with the son of the then Ruler of Dubai. He received encouragement from the poet Fatat Al Arab, when she composed a reply to one of his earliest poems. He has published poetry in his native Arabic.[106] His poems inspired the play Al Faris.

In 1998, he set up the Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Centre for Cultural Understanding (SMCCU), a not-for-profit organisation that aims to raise awareness and demystify the local culture, customs, and religion of the United Arab Emirates. Operating under the motto "Open Doors. Open Minds", SMCCU aims to improve cross-cultural understanding and communication between UAE locals and guests visiting or residing in the UAE.[107] An initiative by Al Maktoum in 2015 saw Dubai's Metro stations turned into art galleries in the period leading up to Art Dubai 2015.[108]

He established the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Patrons of the Arts Awards in March 2009 to honour individuals and organisations who have contributed towards arts development in Dubai. The award allows artists and projects to benefit from the private sector's support under four categories: Distinguished Patrons of the Arts (AED 15 million), Patrons of the Arts (AED 2–5 million), Supporters of the Arts (AED 500,000), and Friends of the Arts (AED 50,000–500,000). The award aims to grant financial or in kind support to the visual and performing arts, literature, and film sectors, which contribute to enriching the artistic and cultural scene in Dubai.[109]

Knowledge Award[edit]

The Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation's $1 million Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Knowledge Award was inaugurated on 7 December 2014, the first award being made jointly to the computer scientist and inventor of the World Wide Web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee and entrepreneur and co-founder of Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales "In recognition of their efforts and contributions in the field of spreading knowledge throughout the world". The award, which was shared equally,[110] was presented by Shaikh Ahmed bin Mohammed, chairman of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Foundation, in the presence of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice-president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai.[111]

Controversies[edit]

Sheikha Latifa and Sheikha Shamsa kidnap allegations[edit]

An early 2000s British police investigation of allegations, made by a former riding instructor, about the attempted escape from her family estate in England, and subsequent kidnapping on a street in Cambridge of Sheikha Latifa's sister Sheikha Shamsa Al Maktoum in 2001, was inconclusive.[112]

Sheikh Mohammed's daughter Latifa escaped Dubai before being captured in the Indian Ocean

On 11 March 2018, a video was released of Sheikha Latifa, one of Sheikh Mohammed's daughters,[113][114][115] after her failed attempt to flee the UAE and subsequent disappearance,[116] in which she claimed she was fleeing from her family, made allegations of abuse, and said her father was responsible for a number of murders, including the murder of his deceased older brother's wife. The escape attempt was the focus of a documentary by Australian broadcaster Nine News as well as BBC Newsnight investigation.[117][118]

In December 2018, former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson, after meeting Sheikha Latifa in the presence of other family members, said that the princess was now in the loving care of her family. Her statement was criticised by human rights groups, who said that Robinson would not have been able to tell in the meeting whether Latifa truly had psychological issues.[119] A spokeswoman for ″The Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice″ confirmed that Robinson was approached by Princess Haya, one of Sheikh Al Maktoum's wives, an old friend of Robinson's, and was requested to go to Dubai by Princess Haya and that Haya paid the fare, less than two weeks after the BBC ran a documentary detailing the princess' failed escape attempt in March.[120][121][122] Ms. Robinson admits she was "horribly tricked" when photographs of the private lunch were made public and that both she and Haya had been told of details of Latifa's bipolar disorder, a condition which she does not have.[123] Marcus Essabri, Latifa's cousin, reported Latifa's photos with Mary Robinson seems to show Latifa medicated while held in Dubai under Sheikh Maktoum's orders.[18] She has not been seen in public since.

In February 2021 video footage obtained by the BBC shows Princess Latifa saying she has been "a hostage" for over a year "with no access to medical help" in "solitary confinement" without access to medical or legal help in a "villa jail" with windows and doors barred shut, and guarded by police. The governments of Dubai and UAE have not responded to requests for comment from the BBC, they have always said Latifa is safe in the loving care of her family.[124] Despite her family's insistence that she has been enjoying time with them at home the past two years, Sheikha Latifa says in the series of videos released by her advocates that she is “a hostage” and fears for her life. “Every day, I’m worried about my safety in my life. I don’t really know if I’m going to survive this situation.” “The police threaten me that they would take me outside and shoot me if I didn’t cooperate with them,” she said. “They also threatened me that I would be in prison my whole life and I’ll never see the sun again.”[125][126]

In 2021, investigative reporting into the Pegasus spyware found that Latifa's name was added to a list of names that were potential targets of the spyware just days before she was seized by Sheikh Maktoum's commandos on a yacht in an attempt to flee.[127]

Princess Haya departure[edit]

On 29 June 2019, The Sun reported that the wife of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, Princess Haya bint Al Hussein, had fled Dubai and was in Germany seeking political asylum along with her children, a son and a daughter. Media reports also asserted that the Princess had taken £31 million with her.[128][129][130] The cause of the departure was unknown,[131] despite a poem alluding to betrayal.[131][132] On 30 July 2019 at the High Court, she filed for the sole custody of their two children, for a forced marriage protection order (FMPO), a non-molestation order, and non-repatriation to Dubai.[133] The next court proceedings and initial deliberations were scheduled on 11 November 2019.[134]

In December 2019, a UK family court ruled that—on the balance of probabilities—Sheikh Mohammed had orchestrated the abductions of Sheikha Latifa and Sheikha Shamsa and that he continued to maintain a regime whereby both were deprived of their liberty. Also on the balance of probabilities, that he had subjected his former wife, Princess Haya, to a campaign of "intimidation"; the findings were published in March 2020.[135][136][17]

Child camel jockeys[edit]

In 2006, a UNICEF-sponsored program 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 $9 million for the second phase, and to enforce compliance, adopted a law officially banning the practice with penalties of jail time and a $27,200 fine.[137] 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".[138]

In September 2006, Al Maktoum 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.[139][140][141] In 2006, American lawyers representing the UAE raised a motion to dismiss the lawsuit on the grounds that none of the involved parties resided in the U.S., arguing that the UN program best served the interests of the children. In July 2007, judge Cecilia Altonaga accepted the motion and dismissed the suit.[142]

Horse racing drugs scandal[edit]

In April 2013, Al Maktoum's Godolphin stables trainer Mahmood Al Zarooni was disqualified for eight years from thoroughbred horse racing by the British Horseracing Authority for administering steroids to eleven racehorses. Al Maktoum stated that he was “appalled and angered” by the case and announced that the stable would be locked down while drug tests were carried out on all horses who were under Al Zarooni's care.[143] In May, Al Maktoum as Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, issued a decree outlawing and criminalizing the use of anabolic steroids on horses in the United Arab Emirates.[144]

In October 2013, scandal returned to Sheikh Mohammed in the venue of horseracing, with reports of potentially toxic and dangerous steroids, anaesthetics, and anti-inflammatory drugs being shipped into UAE, mislabeled as "horse tack". The Telegraph commented that a "PR campaign is already underway, with Sheikh Mohammed again cast as a victim of employee malpractice".[145]

Personal life[edit]

Sheikh Mohammed has had at least six wives.[146] His first marriage was to his first cousin Sheikha Hind bint Maktoum bin Juma Al Maktoum, a member of Dubai's ruling family by birth, whom he married in 1979. She is the First Lady of Dubai, and the mother of twelve of Sheikh Mohammed's children including his heir-designate, Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum (born 1982). In September 2015, Mohammad's eldest son Sheikh Rashid bin Mohammed died of heart disease.

Mohammed's sixth wife was Princess Haya bint Hussein, daughter of King Hussein of Jordan and half-sister of King Abdullah II of Jordan.[147] The couple married on 10 April 2004, and have two children, a daughter, Al-Jalila, born 2 December 2007, and a son, Zayed, born 7 January 2012.[148][149] Sheikh Mohammed announced the birth of his son Zayed on Twitter.[150] 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.[151]

Wealth and assets[edit]

In 2021, the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project estimated that Sheikh Mohammed owned assets worth $14 billion.[3]

Sheikh Mohammed owns the yacht Dubai, built by the German company Blohm + Voss and designed by English designer Andrew Winch, who owns Winch Design. The yacht is 162 metres (531 ft) long, and was the world's third largest yacht as of 2014, with the capacity for up to 115 people including crew.[152] Another personal yacht of the Sheikh is the 40 metres (130 ft) Alloya, built by Sanlorenzo in 2013.[153][154]

He owns real estate in the United Kingdom worth more than 100 million British pounds, as well as properties in Rome through a company registered in Luxembourg.[3] According to a 2021 analysis by The Guardian and Transparency International, Sheikh Mohammed is one of the largest landowners in the UK, owning more than 100,000 acres.[155] The exact number of properties is not fully clear, as most of the properties connected to him are owned through offshore companies in the tax havens of Guernsey and Jersey.[155] Asked about these holdings, Sheikh Mohammed's lawyer rejected that the properties were bought through offshore companies or that the holdings were intended to avoid UK taxes.[155]

Wives and children[edit]

Sheikh Mohammed has thirty children between his different wives.

Wives and children
Name Birth Death Spouse Children
Sheikha Hind bint Maktoum bin Juma Al Maktoum (First Lady of Dubai marriage 1979)
Hessa bint Mohammed Al Maktoum 6 November 1980 Saeed bin Dalmouk Al Maktoum
  • Hind bint Saeed Al Maktoum (born 25 November 2009)
  • Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum (born 20 May 2012)
  • Salama bint Saeed Al Maktoum (born 17 July 2018)
Rashid bin Mohammed Al Maktoum 12 November 1981[156] 19 September 2015[157]
Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum 14 November 1982 Sheikha bint Saeed bin Thani Al Maktoum[158]
  • Rashid bin Hamdan Al Maktoum (born 20 May 2021)
  • Sheikha bint Hamdan Al Maktoum (20 May 2021)
[159]
Maktoum bin Mohammed Al Maktoum 24 November 1983 Maryam bint Butti Al Maktoum[160] Hind bint Maktoum Al Maktoum (born 24 November 2020)
Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Maktoum 7 February 1987 Madiyah Bint Dalmook Al Maktoum[160]
Saeed bin Mohammed Al Maktoum 20 March 1988
Latifa bint Mohammed Al Maktoum (III) 30 March 1989[161] Mohammed bin Hamad bin Mohammed Al Sharqi[162]
  • Hamad bin Mohammed Al Sharqi (born 29 December 2009)
  • Aisha bint Mohammed Al Sharqi (born 1 November 2011)
  • Fatima bint Mohammed Al Sharqi (born 11 March 2014)
  • Rashid bin Mohammed Al Sharqi (born 15 December 2015)
  • Hind bint Mohammed Al Sharqi (born 22 June 2020)
Maryam bint Mohammed Al Maktoum (II) 11 January 1992 Khaled bin Mohammed bin Hamdan Al Nahyan Mohammed bin Khaled Al Nahyan (born 26 September 2020)
Sheikha bint Mohammed Al Maktoum 20 December 1992[163] Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa
  • Sheema bint Nasser Al Khalifa (born 16 July 2010)
  • Hamad bin Nasser Al Khalifa (born 6 June 2012)
  • Mohammed bin Nasser Al Khalifa (born 6 June 2012)
  • Hamdan bin Nasser Al Khalifa (born 28 October 2018)[citation needed]
Futaim bint Mohammed Al Maktoum 22 July 1994[164]
Salamah bint Mohammed Al Maktoum 8 August 1999
Shamma bint Mohammed Al Maktoum 13 November 2001
Princess Haya bint Hussein (marriage 10 April 2004) (divorce 7 February 2019)
Al Jalila bint Mohammed Al Maktoum[165] 2 December 2007
Zayed bin Mohammed bin Al Maktoum[165] 7 January 2012
Lebanese-born wife Sheikha Randa bint Mohammed Al-Banna[166][167][168] (marriage 1972) (divorced)
Manal bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum 12 November 1977 Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan
  • Fatima bint Mansour Al Nahyan (born 9 June 2006)
  • Mohammed bin Mansour Al Nahyan (born 4 December 2007)
  • Hamdan bin Mansour Al Nahyan (born 21 June 2011)
  • Latifa bint Mansour Al Nahyan (born 23 January 2014)
  • Rashid bin Mansoor Al Nahyan (born 22 March 2017)[169]
Lebanese-born wife Sheikha Delila Aloula (marriage unknown) (divorce unknown)
Dalal bint Mohammed Al Maktoum 25 December[when?]
Latifa bint Mohammed Al Maktoum (I) 16 June 1983 Faisal bin Saud bin Khalid Al Qassimi
  • Mohammed bin Faisal Al Qassimi (born 28 July 2018)
  • Shaikha bint Faisal Al Qassimi (29 October 2020)
Maryam bint Mohammed Al Maktoum (I) 11 August 1987 Suhail bin Ahmed Al Maktoum
  • Fatima bint Suhail Al Maktoum (born 26 September 2019)
  • Ahmed bin Suhail Al Maktoum (born 1 December 2020)
Algerian-born wife Sheikha Houria Ahmed Lamara (marriage unknown) (divorce unknown)
Maitha bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum 5 March 1980
Shamsa bint Mohammed Al Maktoum 15 August 1981
Latifa bint Mohammed Al Maktoum (II) 5 December 1985
Majid bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum 16 October 1987[170] Hessa Beljafla
  • Mohammed bin Majid Al Maktoum (born 15 July 2015)
  • Dubai bint Majid Al Maktoum (born 15 July 2015)
  • Maitha bint Majid Al Maktoum (born 17 May 2017)
  • Rashid bin Majid Al Maktoum (born 2 February 2019)
Mansour bin Mohammed Al Maktoum 26 June 1989
Unknown wife – possibly of German origin (marriage unknown) (divorce unknown)
Marwan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum 20 March 1981 Dalal Al Marzouqi
  • Mohammed bin Marwan Al Maktoum
  • Rashid bin Marwan Al Maktoum
Greek-origin Mrs. Zoe Grigorakos (marriage unknown) (divorce unknown)
Mahra bint Mohammed Al Maktoum 26 February 1994[171]

Sons[edit]

Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum's eldest son Rashid bin Mohammed Al Maktoum, with his senior wife Sheikha Hind bint Maktoum bin Juma Al Maktoum, died 18 September 2015, reportedly of a heart attack at the age of 33.[172]

Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum is the second son from Sheikha Hind bint Maktoum bin Juma Al Maktoum. On 1 February 2008, he was assigned Crown Prince of Dubai.

Maktoum bin Mohammed Al Maktoum is the deputy ruler of Dubai,[173] and the Chairman of Dubai Media Incorporated.[174] He was named as the deputy ruler of Dubai in February 2008, when his elder brother Hamdan was made crown prince.[175]

Daughters[edit]

Seven of the Sheikh's daughters have married into royal families in the Middle East:

Notable published works[edit]

  • My Story: 50 Memories from 50 Years of Service (2019) ISBN 978-1785965005
  • Reflections on Happiness & Positivity (2017) ISBN 978-1785960413
  • My Vision: Challenges in the Race for Excellence (2017) ISBN 978-1860632143
  • Flashes of Thought: Lessons in Life and Leadership from the Man Behind Dubai (2015) ISBN 978-1781255032
  • Flashes of Verse (2014) ISBN 978-9948226673
  • Spirit of the Union: Lecture on the Occasion of the United Arab Emirates 40th National Day (2012) ISBN 978-1860633300
  • Poems from the Desert (2009) ISBN 978-1860632525

Ancestry[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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Further reading[edit]

  • Maktoum, Mohammed (2012). My Vision: Challenges in the Race for Excellence. UAE: Motivate. ISBN 978-1-86063-344-7. Vision for governance.
  • Maktoum, Mohammed (2012). Spirit of the Union. UAE: Motivate. ISBN 978-1-86063-330-0. Talks about UAE independence & union.
  • Maktoum, Mohammed (2013). Flashes of Thought. UAE: Motivate. ISBN 978-1-86063-356-0. A number of insights into policy, attitude & approach to leadership.
  • 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
Ruler of Dubai
2006–present
Incumbent
Political offices
Preceded by
Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum
Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates
2006–present
Incumbent