“I do not know if I am a good leader, but I am a leader. And I have a vision. I look to the future, 20, 30 years. I learned that from my father, Sheikh Rashid. He was the true father of Dubai. I follow his example. He would rise early and go alone to watch what was happening on each of his projects. I do the same. I watch. I read faces. I take decisions and I move fast; full throttle.”
The Creation of a new State
“What do you think Rashid? Should we establish the union?” young Sheikh Mohammed heard Sheikh Zayed ask. Without wavering, his father, the Ruler of Dubai, answered: “Give me your hand Zayed, let’s vow on that and you shall be the president”. To reach this historic agreement (the Union Accord) between the two then-Rulers of Abu Dhabi – Sheikh Zayed* and of Dubai – Sheikh Rashid in a desert camp in October of 1968, they had met to discuss establishing a federation between the two sheikhdoms. It was the first decisive step towards a much wider union: On the 2nd of December 1971, the rulers of Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Fujairah and the Crown Prince of Umm Al Quwain convened at Sheikh Rashid’s Palace and signed the Interim Constitution regulating the foundation of the United Arab Emirates. Ras Al Khaimah joined the federation in February of 1972.
HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum today is Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai, author of books, poet of sensitive rhymes in colloquial Arabic – Nabati, successful equestrian and: visionary.
A life dedicated to progress
Sheikh Rashid’s third of four sons was born in 1949, educated at the best local institutions and the Bell Language School in Cambridge. Later he attended Mons Officer Cadet School at Aldershot near London, now part of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, where he „would be exposed to the harsh military training that the British military could throw at an officer cadet.“
In 1977, a committee headed by Sheikh Mohammed, was founded to manage Dubai Airport. By adopting the “open skies” policy, developing Dubai into an international aviation hub became one of the progressive Sheikh’s most outstanding achievements.
In 1995, ruling senior brother Sheikh Maktoum appointed Sheikh Mohammed Crown Prince of Dubai. Following Sheikh Maktoum’s demise in January, 2006, the members of the UAE Supreme Council elected Sheikh Mohammed UAE Vice President. In February of the same year, UAE President HH Sheikh Khalifa bin (son of) Zayed Al Nahyan nominated Sheikh Mohammed UAE Prime Minister; the Supreme Council approved this nomination.
“I do not know if I am a good leader, but I am a leader … and I move fast; full throttle.” And full throttle it has been – ever since.
The lasting Spirit of a Founder
*Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al Nahyan (born in 1918) remained in office as the president of the United Arab Emirates until his death in November 2004. His graveside can be visited on the premises of the Abu Dhabi Grand Mosque.
Sheikh Zayed was succeeded by his son, HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al Nahyan as president of the UAE. Dubai’s most famed building is named after him: Burj Khalifa.
Header photo: Christina Feyerke. The picture shows, how adventurous cleaning of Burj Khalifa’s glass façade can be. At 828 metres, it is presently the world’s tallest building.