Sheikh Mohammed turns 72: A look at 53 years of inspirational leadership
Under his leadership, Dubai and the UAE has taken its place among the leading cities and nations of the world.
His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, celebrates his 72nd birthday on Thursday (July 15).
Born on July 15, 1949, at the Al Maktoum House in Al Shindagha, Sheikh Mohammed is the third of late Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum’s four sons. Sheikh Mohammed’s other brothers are Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum and Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. His mother was Sheikha Latifa bint Hamdan Al Nahyan, daughter of Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, former ruler of Abu Dhabi.
Sheikh Mohammed was tutored privately in Arabic and Islamic studies and began his formal school education at Al Ahmadiya School, Deira, in 1955.
Ten years later, Sheikh Mohammed was enrolled in the Bell School of Languages in Cambridge and then attended Mons Officer Cadet School Aldershot (now known as Royal Military Academy Sandhurst).
In 1968, Sheikh Mohammed returned to Dubai and was appointed as the head of the Dubai Police and Public Security. Later, he was appointed Minister of Defence, becoming the world’s youngest defence minister.
Fast forward to 1995, Sheikh Mohammed was named as the Crown Prince of Dubai on January 3, 1995, by Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the then Ruler of Dubai. On January 4, 2006, Sheikh Mohammed became the Ruler of Dubai following the death of his brother Sheikh Maktoum. On January 5, 2006, he was elected as Vice-President of the country by the UAE Supreme Council. On February 11, President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan nominated Sheikh Mohammed as the UAE Prime Minister.
It has been 53 years that Sheikh Mohammed has been serving the nation. To pay tribute to the Sheikh Mohammed’s accomplishments and services, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, had penned a touching letter on him completing 50 glorious years in serving the nation.
“In 50 years, Sheikh Mohammed, you raised the limits of ambitions, invested in the human, established a civilisation and continue reaping the benefits of your achievements along with your people. In 50 years, Sheikh Mohammed, many things changed around you, but your care, sincerity and love for your country didn’t. I congratulate the generations, including myself, that learned from you. In you, I found the mentor, friend and a loyal supporter,” read the letter by Sheikh Mohamed.
Under Sheikh Mohammed’s leadership, Dubai has grown exponentially from a small town to one of the world’s top trading, finance, tourism, hospitality and aviation hubs. Its state-of-the-art infrastructure competes with any city in the world, and outshines most of them.
Under his leadership, several reforms – such as various new types of visas, citizenship, freehold properties and 100 per cent FDI law etc. – were initiated, placing the UAE among the most attractive countries for foreigners to live and work in. Expo 2020 Dubai is also a reflection of the UAE leader’s ambitions to make the emirate a regional hub for the MICE sector.
Importantly, it was Sheikh Mohammed’s vision which led to the UAE becoming the first country in the world to introduce a Minister of Artificial Intelligence, a Minister of Happiness and a Minister of Tolerance. To ensure that the UAE leads from the front in the space race, the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre was established. As a result, the UAE emerged as the first Arab nation to reach Mars in February 2021.
Be it economy, science or leadership, Sheikh Mohammed’s footprint is visible in every field that Dubai and the UAE have excelled in so far. Now this footprint is increasingly becoming visible and expanding to the Arab World as well.
Man of letters
Sheikh Mohammed is a passionate poet and his love for Nabati poetry, that features life in the Arabian Gulf, is widely acknowledged. He has written several classical Arabic and Nabati poems that are highly appreciated by Arab critics and poets and well received by the public. His work has been translated into several languages. His book Qissati, which narrates 50 stories in his 50 years of serving the nation, is also regarded as one of the finest works.
The Dubai Ruler is also a prominent figure in equestrian sports, which is an essential part of Arab heritage. He is also one of the most influential horse owners and breeders. Godolphin, a thoroughbred horseracing stable, has competed in the most prestigious racecourses in the world and produced some of the world’s strongest horses. Sheikh Mohammed has also won many regional and international endurance races and championships.
Every great leader’s vision places humanitarian services at the top of his priorities.
The charity works through Dubai Ruler’s initiatives Dubai Cares and Noor Dubai, run throughout the year in various regions across Asia, Africa, Middle East and others. Dubai Cares, launched in 2007, provides children in developing countries access to quality primary education. While Noor Dubai, launched in 2008, has been treating and providing health services to people suffering from treatable blindness and virtual impairment in developing countries.
The establishment of the International Humanitarian City in Dubai has been instrumental in delivering aid to various countries around the world, especially during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
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