Focus, courage, generosity, vision and an infectious charisma. Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai Crown Prince and Chairman of the Dubai Executive Council, who married Shaikha Shaikha Bint Saeed Bin Thani Al Maktoum in a religious ceremony last month, has all the key traits of a natural leader. But what sets the 37-year-old apart and makes him so immensely popular, especially among the youth, is his ability to connect with others — in fact, absolutely anyone.
Shaikh Hamdan says he owes everything to his father. “My testimony to [His Highness] Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, [Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai], remains inadequate; I shall not be able to repay him no matter what I say. He is the Leader, the Mentor, the Father, the Man. I learned from his school… and I still learn and discover new things from him every day.
“For years, I accompanied him, and learned so much from him — not only in the field of administration, which he mastered in a unique fashion of his own and made it a model to follow in achieving excellence — but rather in the many other aspects of life that vary between practical matters such as ambition, commitment and that sense of responsiblity, and personal characteristics like modesty, discipline, wisdom, patience and application of true consultation before taking any decision.”
Following in the footsteps of his father, Shaikh Hamdan has endeared himself alike to both Emiratis and expats. Sure enough, they are all rejoicing at his wedding and that of his brothers Shaikh Maktoum and Shaikh Ahmad.
As the nation erupts in joy, a proud Shaikh Mohammad has written an emotional poem which reflects on how he raised his sons and instilled the love of the nation in them.
As the Crown Prince starts a new chapter, we bring you an overview on the different facets of his life.
Birth and early life
Born to Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum and Shaikha Hind Bint Maktoum Bin Juma’a on November 14, 1982, Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum received his elementary education at Rashid Private School, Dubai. He pursued his higher education in the United Kingdom where he graduated from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (RMAS), regarded as one of the most reputed military academies in the world.
He also enrolled in specialised training programmes in economics at the London School of Economics and Dubai School of Government.
But Shaikh Hamdan reckons that the most important school in his life — and the most influential personality — is Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid. “I studied and graduated from the Mohammad Bin Rashid school and I’m still learning from him every day. I am keen to consult with him and be enlightened by his directives in many strategic matters. He is a model to follow, not only for me, but for all UAE youth,” Shaikh Hamdan says.
Shaikh Hamdan says he learned from Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid that leadership is not a privilege but rather a responsibility. “I also learned from him that patriotism manifests in hard work and selfless dedication. He taught me that through commitment, we can achieve excellence, and through excellence we can sustain superiority in all aspects of life,” says Shaikh Hamdan, who has quickly risen through the ranks to establish his reputation as a leader.
The Crown Prince is chairman of Dubai Executive Council and also a member of the Dubai Sports Council and Dubai Autism Centre.
Chairman of Dubai Executive Council
Before his 25th birthday, Shaikh Hamdan was appointed Chairman of Dubai Executive Council, a government body responsible for establishing and executing Dubai’s strategic comprehensive development plans. Under his able leadership, the Council has grown from strength to strength, achieving major accomplishments that have not just boosted the development of Dubai, they have and reinforced its position as an emerging international hub for business, commerce, tourism and logistics.
His proximity with decision makers from his early days has given him a wealth of experience which is now standing him in good stead.
Crown Prince's vision
Shaikh Hamdan took on the role of Crown Prince of Dubai on February 1, 2008. In the 11 years that have rolled by since then, he has played a crucial role in implementing Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid’s vision and constantly accompanies him on trips outside the country.
Shaikh Hamdan’s vision revolves around the homeland and is largely focused on tapping the infinite potential of the UAE youth to take the country to even greater heights in terms of development, health care, social services and sports.
Much like his father, Shaikh Hamdan routinely goes out of the way to help people and mingle with ordinary people. One often sees him driving down Dubai roads or chatting with residents while dining at a restaurant. It’s this community-based communication approach that has won him the hearts and minds of UAE residents.
When a young Palestinian lost both is feet in a bomb attack and came to Dubai for treatment, Shaikh Hamdan not only took care of all his medical expenses, but also took the man on a cruise around Dubai’s lagoons and let him practise one of his favouite sports — diving — in defiance of his handicap.
Moved by the plight of workers who can’t afford expensive dental care, Shaikh Hamdan offered them free oral treatment.
Last year, he stepped forward to fund the entire treatment of an Emirati man battling cancer after he posted an emotional video on social media.
Poets typically acquire fame when they have reached middle age. But that’s not the case for Shaikh Hamdan who set the literary world on fire at a very young age with his Nabati poetry composed under the pen name Fazza.
Shaikh Hamdan has a number of published poems, many of which are now famous songs. He describes poetry as “My identity and poetic character through which I humbly attempt to rekindle joy in the hearts of people, alleviate their suffering in my own simple way. I express their hopes and aspirations.”
Shaikh Hamdan is arguably the most active crown prince in the world today. Not without reason. Skydiving, horse-riding, cycling, ziplining, and diving — the daredevil adventurer has excelled in just about everything. If that’s not enough, he has swam in the ocean with sharks and filmed them, strapped himself to planes, hung out of choppers and scaled the spire of the world’s tallest building Burj Khalifa.
Social media has amplified his reputation as a fearless crown prince with over eight million followers on Instagram and nearly four million on Twitter.
Raised in a family that values equestrian sports, Shaikh Hamdan has been around horses since childhood. What started as a hobby soon turned into a passion for equestrian sports, which has seen him clinch a number of international and regional endurance championship titles. These include Gold Medal — Single — World Youth Endurance Championship, Spain (September 2001), First place – King of Spain Endurance Cup, (April 2002 ) First place – FEI World Endurance Championship, France, December 2005 • Gold Medal, Team – Asian Games Endurance Championship, Qatar, (December 2006 ); Gold Medal, Team – FEI World Endurance Championship, Malaysia, (November 2008), Gold Medal, Team – European Endurance Championship for Youth, Germany, (August 1999), Gold Medal, Team – European Open Endurance Championship, Portugal, (1999), First Place – 140km Tattersalls Endurance Race, England (2001)
His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum is hosting a reception today at the Dubai World Trade Centre at 4pm for male dignitaries to celebrate the weddings of his three sons. A separate celebration will be held at a later date for women.
Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad, 37, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Dubai Executive Council, married Shaikha Shaikha Bint Saeed Bin Thani Al Maktoum in a religious ceremony on May 15.
On the same day, his brother Shaikh Maktoum Bin Mohammad, 36, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, married Shaikha Maryam Bint Butti Al Maktoum.
The third marriage that took place the same day was between Shaikh Ahmad Bin Mohammad, 32, Chairman of the Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Knowledge Foundation, and Shaikha Midya Bint Dalmouj Al Maktoum.