If there is one person who perhaps knew Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Minister of Finance, better than most, it was Mirza Al Sayegh, his right-hand man, confidant and childhood friend.
As the Director of Sheikh Hamdan’s Office for over 40 years, during which period he managed most of Sheikh Hamdan’s business and sporting interests, Al Sayegh would learn something new all the time about a man he describes as a person who made a big impact on the lives of all those he befriended without even realising how big an impact he had on that person.
Sheikh Hamdan was an extraordinary man, one of a kind. He was a constant and dependable presence in my life and all those who were associated with him.
Speaking to Gulf News shortly after news broke that Sheikh Hamdan had succumbed to his worsening health issues, Al Sayegh, himself a quiet and reserved individual, was overwhelmed by a sense of eternal passion, instinctive loyalty and fondness for Sheikh Hamdan.
“Sheikh Hamdan was an extraordinary man, one of a kind,” Al Sayegh narrated. “He was a constant and dependable presence in my life and all those who were associated with him.
“Today is a very sad day because we [lost] not only a considerate and kind person but [also] someone who was well known for his intelligence, innovation and farsightedness. He was a people’s champion.
“I’m sure his sons and daughters will build on the extraordinary legacy he has left behind.
I will never forget Sheikh Hamdan’s thoughtfulness and love for all those around him. I remember once many years ago on a flight to England he asked the air-hostess to bring him several glasses of water. He then opened his briefcase and took out a box of Vitamin C tablets which he offered to everyone on the plane, saying they will need the tablets to protect themselves from the cold in England.
“I have had the absolute pleasure to have known and work for Sheikh Hamdan for innumerable years and each one of those years was very special because he wanted us to strive to be the best,” Al Sayegh added.
“As we mourn a sudden and great loss together I am reminded of many beautiful memories that I will always cherish.
“I will never forget Sheikh Hamdan’s thoughtfulness and love for all those around him. I remember once many years ago on a flight to England he asked the air-hostess to bring him several glasses of water. He then opened his briefcase and took out a box of Vitamin C tablets which he offered to everyone on the plane, saying they will need the tablets to protect themselves from the cold in England.
“I could not believe that somebody as important as him, who had a lot on his mind, could find the time to think of those around him and to care for their well-being. That extraordinary gesture is something that I will always remember because it showed what a gentle soul with a big heart Sheikh Hamdan was.”
Al Sayegh revealed that often Sheikh Hamdan would surprise you by following up on something small when it came to his pet passion, race horses, in a thoughtful manner.
Even as preparations were going on for Sheikh Hamdan’s funeral ceremony at his Zabeel Palace, Al Sayegh devoted his precious time talking to Gulf News about his memories of a man he would often refer to as being selfless and someone who was loved around the world.
“Ever since the news broke about Sheikh Hamdan’s sad passing this morning my phone has not stopped ringing,” said Al Sayegh.
“I’ve been flooded with calls from friends, associates, government officials like the British Ambassador to the UAE, from around the Emirates, the UK, Australia and all parts of the world, who wanted to offer their condolences.
“It was very inspiring to know that Sheikh Hamdan was loved and admired by so many people. I was overwhelmed with the number of calls that I was getting and took time to answer each and every one of them,” he added.
“It was my way of paying tribute to Sheikh Hamdan. I’ve been his right-hand man since I was young and I still am.”
Through the memories Al Sayegh shared we learned things about Sheikh Hamdan at a deeper level and how much he enjoyed life.
This is the legacy that he leaves behind. He will be missed but without a doubt, never forgotten.
Rest In Peace, Your Excellency.