Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum Image Credit: Gulf News archives

Making history by continually achieving the impossible is what defines great leaders and Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum (1912-1990) was among that rare class of visionaries. Twenty-nine years after his death, his legacy for Dubai is an ever-perpetuating gift of vision, courage, philanthropy and excellence that is steering the emirate to greater heights by the day.

As Ruler of Dubai from 1958 to October 1990, Sheikh Rashid was the lodestar that illuminated every aspect of Dubai’s growth, from its ground-level progress to the highest reaches of ambition. Blessed with the finest qualities of the heart and mind, he was instrumental in shaping the destiny of the people in this emirate. From generosity, acuity, compassion, empathy and kindness to daring, farsightedness, the rigour of discipline and the spirit of inquiry, Sheikh Rashid’s transformative abilities fused Dubai’s animate and inanimate elements to forge its indomitable spirit that continues to guide the emirate to exceptional progress.

Today, Dubai is globally acknowledged for its standout performance in governance, infrastructure and people’s happiness and the roots of this glory lie deep and strong in the groundwork done by Sheikh Rashid in his 32 years as Dubai’s ruler (1958-1990).

In the finest traditions of true leaders, Sheikh Rashid had all the time for people from all walks of life and vocations.

- Gulf News

The eighth ruler from Al Maktoum family, Sheikh Rashid’s desire to transform Dubai into a modern entity was premised on fundamental economics: if Dubai was to attract the world to its shores, it needed to have the vital assets that act as channels of entry. If Dubai was to become a modern city for its own people, it needed to have infrastructure within the emirate that improved their lives. Dubai Airport, Port Rashid, Dubai Creek, World Trade Centre, Jebel Ali Port, Shindagha Tunnel, these are but some of the innumerable examples of Sheikh Rashid’s vision and how it irreversibly powered Dubai into the future.

His lofty prescience cohabited with heartfelt humanitarianism. In the finest traditions of true leaders, Sheikh Rashid had all the time for people from all walks of life and vocations — from advisers to those who came to him for advice. His abiding belief in religious tolerance and respect for other’s beliefs formed the bedrock of Dubai’s enduring tradition of coexistence and harmony of its multicultural population.

Sheikh Rashid’s legacy is a timeless lesson for posterity on the true meaning of progress: putting people at the heart of it while putting the mind to work for their well-being.