Accession Day: 10 times Sheikh Mohammed won UAE residents' hearts in surprise visits through the years

While the Dubai Ruler is constantly pushing the emirate to new heights, he had never lost sight of the ground — here are some instances where he mingled with the public and listened to their stories

By Mohammad Thanweeruddin

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File photos
File photos

Published: Wed 4 Jan 2023, 1:57 PM

Last updated: Wed 4 Jan 2023, 9:59 PM

As UAE Vice-President His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum marks 17 years as the Ruler of Dubai today, tributes are pouring in from all corners, highlighting how his incredible vision has created the world-class, futuristic city the emirate has become.

In Dubai — with its skyscrapers and out-of-this-world missions— the sky was never the limit because, for Sheikh Mohammed, "the sky is only the beginning".


While Sheikh Mohammed is constantly pushing the emirate to new heights, he had never lost sight of the ground. Both Emiratis and expats would instantly recognise the three-finger salute he would give to send love and inspiration, and no one would miss his car whenever it hits the roads.

Still, some residents and tourists were luckier than most, as they were able to meet and even greet the Dubai Ruler during the several instances he surprised the public. Sheikh Mohammed never forgets his people, both citizens and expats, and it has always shown.


Here are 10 times he won people's hearts in surprise visits through the years:

2008: Building a new home for an Emirati

The Dubai Ruler saw a father figure in Salem Khamis Al Kaabi, a citizen he had known for years. In fact, it was his late father Sheikh Rashid who ordered that a house be built for the Emirati and his family at Wadi Al Qoor. During the meeting in 2008, Sheikh Mohammed asked that a new home be constructed for Salem.

2011: Coffee, anyone?

During a drive in the desert, Sheikh Mohammed saw tourists enjoying the scenery. Showing them true Arabian hospitality, he took out a pot of Emrati coffee (gahwa) from his car and served it to them.

2011: A ride on the Dubai Metro

Encouraging residents to make the most of the city's world-class public transport, Sheikh Mohammed took a surprise Metro ride.

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2013: Lunch at a university cafeteria

Students at UAE University in Al Ain was having their break when, all of a sudden, a VIP arrived to eat with them. The visit comes as part of Sheikh Mohammed's efforts to ensure that the varsity is getting all they need to provide world-class education.

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2016: Coming together for iftar

Sheikh Mohammed joined young recruits for Iftar at the National Service School of the Presidential Guard, taking a moment to listen to their stories and aspirations.

2016: A visit to government offices

Employees at four government offices in Dubai were shocked to find a surprise visitor coming for an inspection.

2017: A royal back-to-school welcome

As over a million children returned to campuses on the first day of school in Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed was among those who welcomed them back as he visited several classrooms.

2018: Lending a hand

Sheikh Mohammed comes to the rescue of a European family whose vehicle got stuck in the desert in the UAE.

2021: Epic desert journey

The Dubai Ruler greeted a group of camel trekkers who were on their way to Global Village on the last day of their 550km desert journey.

2021: Welcome to Dubai

Sheikh Mohammed took the time to meet and wave to the bike riders who participated in the Emirates Cycling Tour, which started in Abu Dhabi and took the group through different sceneries across the country.

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