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National Day Special: As the UAE celebrates its 48th National Day, we bring you the life and times of our beloved leader Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. There is no introduction required whatsoever for this visionary leader who has put Dubai on the international map. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum became prime minister and vice president of the UAE in 2006. He was born on July 15, 1949. He attended the Bell School of Languages and was appointed Crown Prince of Dubai in 1995. In his mission to help transform Dubai into a lush and desired business location, he helped develop the Palm Islands, the Burj Al-Arab hotel, the Burj Khalifa skyscraper, the Dubai World Cup and the Godolphin Stables.
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Sheikh Mohammed is also a gifted poet, philosopher and a prolific writer. He has published several books in the past. The latest book by the Ruler of Dubai is titled "Qissati” (My story) offers his musings starting from a very young age. He has termed his new book as an “incomplete autobiography”. The result: a free-wheeling recollection, with compelling stories and insights into his life and brand of leadership.
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The first chapter of the book Qissati is titled 'A little of my wisdom, and lots of love'. Here the Dubai ruler talks about his early first lessons which he learnt and it was to serve others. "This is a lesson that my grandfather, Sheikh Saeed Bin Maktoum, taught me. He taught us to serve the people first and foremost," he tells in the book. "I love to break new records in front of my people. To reach new heights. I believe that what drives nations towards development is not money and wealth but ambitions…great ambitions." Just look at how the Dubai Ruler has achieved his dreams. Truly commendable
Image Credit: Source: Qissati
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In the second chapter of the book Qissati, titled 'My father, visiting the king of kings', the Dubai Ruler says, “I learnt from my father, Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, the value of simplicity, of being down to earth. Of being close to the people…and how to serve them. It was my life’s greatest lesson. I saw how kings fall in the past — in the 40s, 50s and 60s. And I saw them again this decade. The question is: Where is Rashid and Zayed? They are in the hearts of the people. And those kings and presidents, where are they in history?"
Image Credit: Source: Qissati
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Sheikh Mohammed pictured here with his father, the late Dubai ruler, Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum. In the third chapter of his book Qissati, the Dubai Ruler says, sometimes, sleeping with scorpions is much easier than living with them. He goes onto narrate an incident. "When I was young, my father used to send me to the desert, to a man named Humaid Bin Amhi. Humaid taught me about desert life. I would wake up in the middle of the night several times due to scorpion bites. I realised later that Humaid put baby scorpions on my bed on purpose. I learnt that bites from baby scorpions help build immunity for bites from mature scorpions. Not everything that hurts you is evil. Sometimes, it’s for your own good and protection. Scorpions apparently look for some warmth at night. A couple of years ago, as an adult, I got bitten by a scorpion and I realised that I still have the immunity. The scorpions of the desert are much easier to deal with than human scorpions. I hate rumour mongers. They ruin your heart. They destroy institutions. They focus only on the negative. They never tell you about the positives…and good side of people." Now how profound is that indeed. In the book, he also credits his father for nurturing a love for horses. In chapter 4 from the book Qissati, the Dubai ruler says his father, horses and Dubai are three earliest memories of his childhood. "These three are my earliest memories that will stay with me forever. Horses combine pride, compassion and power — all at the same time. That was my father. And this is Dubai. He taught me how to read the desert and animals. I learnt from the desert that arrogance has no place here. Before the age of 8, my father taught me about desert life — with the horses and camels, wolves and deer, both in the hot and cold months. After 8, he taught me to live in the city — how cruel people can be, how beautiful is the desert."
Image Credit: Taken from the book 'Qissati'
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In the fifth chapter of Qissati, Sheikh Mohammed talks about his mother. He says, "Latifa means the delicate woman. The companion. The rare human being. In life, Latifa is my mother, my heart. The most beautiful, the most delicate, the best companion in my life. Latifa’s job was the life companion of Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, the Ruler of Dubai for more than four decades. Rashid Bin Saeed changed when she passed away. He was never the same after she passed away. She had great love for her children. But I was the one closest to her heart. I have never seen love like her love, a heart like her heart, and a companionship like hers. She had a very strong personality, lovable. All who knew her loved her.
Image Credit: Picture source, Facebook : Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum
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In this picture, Sheikh Mohammed is negotiating with terrorist Osamu Maruoka in 1973. To continue, the Dubai Ruler's story, in Chapter 8 of Qissati, titled '185 years looking for Dubai', the Dubai Ruler says, "In 1912, my grandfather Sheikh Saeed Bin Maktoum, when he started his rule, Dubai’s population increased significantly as trade flourished. This is the insight we inherited from my grandfather: always find ways to diversify. And that’s why when someone asks me: "Why is Dubai always looking for new projects? From Media, to Internet, to ports?" The answer is in Dubai’s unwritten constitution. "Diversification is our foundation." The next chapter 9 titled 'A big storm, like Judgement Day' touches our hearts and it will yours as well. Read this. The Dubai Ruler, in this chapter says, "The year was 1961. A powerful storm hit Dubai. I saw a leader in front of me. How he acted in a crisis. How he sent his sons and cousins first, rather than sending other people, outside — to the streets, to the sea in order to help and save people. “That time, there was a ship, MV Da Ra, anchored off Dubai. For 13 years, this ship was sailing between Mumbai and the Gulf. It moved people and goods. While the storm lashed, a blast hit the ship. It went up in flames. We went to the ship on small boats to help in the rescue effort. That day, we helped around 500 people. The lesson: the true test of a leader’s ability comes in times of crises." And Sheikh Mohammed lives by this even today. What a great leader he is.
Image Credit: Taken from the book 'Qissati'
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This picture was taken during a graduation in Manama. To continue the story of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed, in Chapter 21 of Qissati titled 'A historic responsibility', the Dubai Ruler says, "I was 19, when I was given the task of establishing an army for a country with no army. To implement a defence strategy for a country yet to be born. What surprised me was that I wasn’t scared of the huge responsibility; but I felt that it took my abilities, my thinking, and potentials to another level. In February 1968, I was appointed head of Dubai Police and had to travel to Britain again for training."
Image Credit: Source: Qissati
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A young Sheikh Mohammed with his father, the late Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum. In Chapter 25 titled 'Arabic Pipe' , the Dubai ruler says, "In the summer of 1969, my father had a meeting with Harold Wilson, the British Prime Minister then. The Prime Minister took his pipe, filled it with tobacco while he was in deep thought. I saw amusement in my father‘s face as he was lighting up his own pipe. In our custom, the host is not supposed to light his pipe before the visitor does. The Arabic pipe is a miniature of the English one. But the tobacco used was different, very strong. One puff from it is enough. My father finished his first puff and put it out in the ashtray. The Prime Minister was looking at my father’s pipe and smiled, saying: “Shaikh Rashid, look; my pipe is bigger than yours.” My father smiled, and looked at me, saying: “Tell Wilson that I agree with him that his pipe is bigger. But even though my pipe is smaller, the tobacco in it is much stronger and heavier.” I realised after this episode that in politics, they were not referring to the pipes. Wilson’s message was the size of Britain. My father’s message was clear: Don’t underestimate our size. We are strong and have the determination and we are able to protect ourselves."
Image Credit: Source Qissati
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What a picture: As we celebrate UAE's 48th national day, we bring you a timeline of our beloved Dubai Ruler. 1. He was Born in 1949. 2. He was appointed as Head of Dubai Police and Public Security on November 1, 1968 3. He was appointed as Minister of Defence in December 1971 4. He served as the Crown Prince of Dubai from January 1995 to January 2006 5. He was appointed Ruler of Dubai on January 4, 2006 6. He was appointed as the Vice-President of the UAE on January 5, 2006, 7. Appointed as the Prime Minister of the UAE on February 11, 2006
Image Credit: Picture source : Facebook - His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Text : government.ae
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Pictured here with His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces. To continue the story of Dubai Ruler, Sheikh Mohammed. On 2 December 1971, the rulers of Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Fujairah and the Crown Prince of Umm Al Quwain, as representative of his father, met at Sheikh Rashid Palace in Jumeirah, Dubai where they signed the Interim Constitution that regulated the establishment of the United Arab Emirates. Despite the fact that Sheikh Mohammed was the youngest defence minister in the world and in just less than twelve months, he cleverly and wisely tackled the serious responsibility assigned to him internally and abroad. The UAE forces undertook its first international task on 1976, when Sheikh Mohammed ordered troops to Lebanon to join the Arab Deterrent Force for a peacekeeping mission. On 25 August 1977, Sheikh Rashid announced a formation of a committee, headed by Sheikh Mohammed, to manage Dubai Airport; consequently, developing Dubai as an international aviation hub and touristic attraction. In this aspect, Sheikh Mohammed adopted the open skies policy and established the fundamentals of the touristic industry that boomed during the 90s.
Image Credit: Picture Source: Facebook - His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Text : The United Arab Emirates's government portal
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On January 3, 1995, Sheikh Maktoum, the then Ruler of Dubai, signed a decree appointing Sheikh Mohammed as Crown Prince of Dubai. This appointment had dramatic effects, as Sheikh Mohammed launched many initiatives and projects to prosper the future of Dubai. In 1995, Sheikh Mohammed revealed infrastructure projects for the new digital economy and launched the eGovernment initiative. 'Destination Dubai', was the tourism brief so long championed by him. Late in 1995, Sheikh Mohammed announced the creation of the Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF). On April 1 1998, Sheikh Rashid Terminal was opened, representing the completion of the first phase of the Dubai's Government US$540 million airport expansion plan. Elsewhere in Dubai, an artificial island was being created, some 100 metres offshore. This was to be the base for one of Sheikh Mohammed's boldest projects, a hotel named Burj Al Arab (tower of the Arabs). On May 11, 1999, Sheikh Mohammed announced an initiative to make Dubai Government as an online government as a whole within 18 months, which would give Dubai the distinction of becoming the world's first fully online government. On October 29, 1999, Sheikh Mohammed announced the Dubai Internet City initiative, with a deadline of just 365 days to accomplish. The initiative was set to encompass the infrastructure, environment and attitude to enable new economic enterprises to operate out of Dubai with significant competitive advantage. Sheikh Mohammed and his family contributed to other free zone projects such as Dubai Media City and Dubai International Financial Centre. Early in 2001, Sheikh Mohammed announced the most extraordinary 'Destination Dubai' project; The Palm Island, a giant resort spread over two palm tree-shaped man-made islands. In May 2001, His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive, Emirates Airline & Group confirmed that, on instructions from Sheikh Mohammed, Emirates planned to buy up to 60 new wide-body aircraft worth $10billion.
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Sheikh Mohammed, the equestrian: As a member of the Gulf's recognised families, it was only natural that Sheikh Mohammed be introduced to horses at an early age. He learned to ride horses in his early childhood and was a promising athlete. Equestrianism was and is his true sporting passion. Sheikh Mohammed first visited a racecourse in 1967, in England. He and his brother, Sheikh Hamdan, watched Royal Palace win 2000 Guineas (the currency then in England). Some 10 years later, in Brighton, Hatta the filly gave Sheikh Mohammed his first victory as an owner. Despite the great success, it was not until Sheikh Mohammed established Godolphin in 1994 that the racing world really began to acknowledge his passion for horses. Godolphin allowed him to ensure that his ideas were fully implemented, something which had not been possible previously. The success and development of Godolphin coincided with the rise in Dubai's international profile. At the time it was established, owners tended to race their horses only on their own continent. Sheikh Mohammed wanted to race his horses all over the world and to encourage others to do the same. The world's richest horse race, the Dubai World Cup, was established with this aim in mind. The American horse Cigar won the first World Cup; the race continues to attract entries from around the globe. Sheikh Mohammed has earned international recognition as a horse owner, as evidenced by the Special Eclipse Award he received in 2001. He is also an exceptionally gifted rider. He has chosen endurance racing which has yet to gain the international popularity of traditional horse racing. Several riders from the UAE have excelled in this sport, with Sheikh Mohammed having served as captain of the national team. He is widely acknowledged to be a master tactician, recognising exactly the time to demand maximum effort from the horses, and when to hold them back. He led the UAE to victory in the 1999 European Championship in Spain and Portugal and was captain when they retained the title in Italy in 2001. In the 2003 European Championship in Ireland, he was captain once again and won the race. He is also a leading figure in the campaign to have endurance racing included in the Olympics.
Image Credit: Picture Source - Facebook His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Text : United Arab Emirates' government portal
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As the Prime Minister of the UAE, Sheikh Mohamed has launched ground-breaking initiatives in a record time. His initiatives include: Vision 2021 The UAE Vision 2021 aims to make the UAE one of the best countries in the world by the Golden Jubilee of the UAE formation as a federation. The Vision set six national priorities as the key focus of government strategy in the coming years: cohesive society and preserved identity safe public and fair judiciary competitive knowledge economy first-rate education system world-class healthcare sustainable environment and infrastructure
Image Credit: Picture source : Facebook - His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Text : United Arab Emirates's government portal
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Sheikh Mohammed, the people's person: As a wrap to our story on Sheikh Mohammed as an ode to UAE national day, this picture says it all. Whether it is his love for children or his love for people - Sheikh Mohammed is a people's person. He regularly holds online and offline consultative sessions with the public and his cabinet. He has a huge fan following on his official social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. He is a pioneer of implementing eParticipation in the region.
Image Credit: Picture Source - His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Text : United Arab Emirates' government portal