‘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 constitutional monarch of Dubai and the incumbent prime minister and vice president of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum is the visionary leader who has transformed Dubai into a lavish business destination and a land of opportunities.
Early Life & Education
Sheikh Al Maktoum was born on July 15, 1949 to Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum of Al Maktoum family that descends from the Al Bu Falasah section of the Bani Yas, a highly respected and authoritative tribal federation that was the dominant power throughout most of what is now the UAE.
Sheikh Mohammed has been an athletic and energetic youth; an enthusiastic participant in traditional Arab sports. Besides hunting, horsemanship has always been his most favourite sports.
His father had great confidence in Sheikh Mohammed’s abilities and talent. He always believed that a man of such capabilities and characters would be best suited to managing the increasing external and internal security demands. With this in mind, Sheikh Rashid started looking at military training options for his third son. But first, the young Sheikh needed a complete grounding in the English language.
In August 1966, Sheikh Mohammed went to London where he enrolled in Bell Language School in Cambridge, one of Europe’s best-regarded language schools. A melting pot of nationalities and cultures was available to Sheikh Mohammed, who used the opportunity to learn about many of his classmates and their countries. He zestfully merged himself into the vibrant Cambridge student literature scene and integrated himself fully into the student life. Besides poetry, sports held great interest for him, particularly rowing. To further prepare for his future role in Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed attended Mons Officer Cadet School ‘Aldershot’ now a part of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.
Over subsequent months, Sheikh Mohammed was exposed to the harsh military training that the British military could throw at an officer cadet. It was an environment in which he thrived; during the latter stages of the six-month course, he was promoted to Senior Under Officer of Kohema and was later awarded the Sword of Honor for achieving the highest mark of any Foreign and Commonwealth officer cadet in his intake.
World’s Youngest Defence Minister
When he returned to Dubai, his father appointed him as Head of Dubai Police and Public Security’ his first public position. The Ruler also made him the Minister of Defence to make Sheikh Mohammed the world’s youngest defence minister.
Ascension to the Throne
On January 4th, 2006, Sheikh Mohammed became the Ruler of Dubai following the death of his father during a visit to Australia, and on January 5th, the members of the UAE Supreme Council elected Sheikh Mohammed the UAE Vice President.
Leadership & Vision
Sheikh Mohammed embodies energetic and successful leadership. He is a man of his word; he has insisted on excellence and achieved nothing less; he has defined the role of leadership and fulfilled it. He has competently authored the Dubai success story in record time and put the United Arab Emirates on a unique course, which nations around the world compete to replicate.
Since becoming the Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, and Ruler of Dubai, revolutionary initiatives have been rolled out. The past few years have witnessed significant progress in economic and social development: e-government was introduced; the Dubai Metro ‘a light rail system that transports tens of thousands of commuters daily’ was inaugurated and a significant number of investment companies were established. These companies have formed global partnerships in the fields of industry, commerce, tourism, ports management and real estate investments.
Sheikh Mohammed set out his comprehensive world view in his book “My Vision,” where he describes his philosophy and his political and economic vision. He offers a detailed account of how Dubai and the UAE have been guided to their present-day status as international centers, renowned for their high quality commercial and financial services, luxury tourism and their drive towards human development and sustainable structure.