Sheikh Mohammed recalls doomsday-like Dubai storm

 

Sheikh Mohammed recalls doomsday-like Dubai storm

Dubai - "The storm went on for several days. The death toll was unbelievable."

By Hisham Salah

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Published: Tue 22 Jan 2019, 5:25 PM

Last updated: Tue 22 Jan 2019, 8:16 PM

In the eighth chapter from his latest book, Qissati, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, talks about a "doomsday-like" storm that hit Dubai in 1961 when he was just 10 years old. He says the experience taught him about the noblest characteristic of Emiratis: Their cooperation.
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When I was 10 years old and my grandfather, Sheikh Saeed, was in office, the elders talked about the sea and its ability to change. They talked about fishermen catching strange types of fish off Dubai's shores. They mentioned noticing signs about strong winds that would be followed by a doomsday-like storm. Yet, the sea was calm and clear.
I was sleeping in my bedroom on April 8, 1961. Suddenly, I heard a loud bang. I recall my father saying: "Hamdan .. Mohammed.. hold my hands!" We all ran to find things to secure and lock the doors and windows of our house. I thought the world was coming to an end, yet it was the beginning of a long night.
Scared citizens and families started to arrive at our house and we carefully opened the door for them.
Suddenly, a group of British soldiers entered through our door, yelling: "A fire has broken out on MV Dara, Your Highness!"
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MV Dara was a vessel owned by a British maritime company, and for 13 years it transported passengers and goods between Mumbai and ports of Gulf countries.
During the storm, a fire broke out on the vessel with more than 800 passengers on board. Many had died.
My father sent all of our family members along with a group of Dubai residents for a rescue mission. Armed with lifeboats, we managed to save over 500 people from the ship.

The storm went on for several days. The death toll was unbelievable. I recall the tears of women who were widowed. They came to our house for help and my parents gave them all they asked for.

I learned to never underestimate nature, and to be always ready for emergencies. Although the storm was fierce, it showed the noblest characteristic of the people of Dubai: Their cooperation. I also learned how a leader manages a crisis.

The most important lesson I learned was how my father asked us - his own sons and our cousins - to go out on the rescue mission before asking anyone else.

In what he is calling his "incomplete biography", His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, has broken his latest book, Qissati (My Story), into 50 chapters, narrating 50 stories in his 50 years of serving the nation. Khaleej Times got a signed copy of the book from the Dubai Ruler and everyday, we will be featuring excerpts from each of the 50 chapters.


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