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01 December 2023

Sheikh Mohammed: The Man of Vision and Action

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum

By Vicky Kapur

A decade and a half ago, many across the world likened Dubai’s economy to a bubble, claiming that the emirate’s rapid economic growth and mega projects were bound to hit the land of reality.

But it was partly because those people couldn’t really comprehend what was going on – the sheer size and scope of the projects the emirate was announcing and undertaking was so huge that they seemingly exceeded the needs of the emirate itself, and indeed that of the entire region, while their declared goals seemed to be extremely over-ambitious.

As time went by, though, those fears receded when the jigsaw puzzle pieces started to fall into their right slots and the overall picture became clearer. Year after year, Dubai has been able to outdo itself, becoming a model many countries and cities are striving to emulate. The emirate’s ambitions still seem much bigger than what has so far been achieved.

That ambition is not about building the world’s tallest tower or engineering the deepest hotel, or about creating the largest shopping mall or even the grandest theme park in the world. All these and more are mere by-products of a vision that aims at transforming not just the landscape or the economy, but society. It is this vision that is redefining the way the world lives and plays.

Personifying that vision is HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE, and Ruler of Dubai, the man who is responsible for the magnificent transformation of the emirate from a tiny desert outpost into a truly world-class city. A city where the best of the world’s entrepreneurial and management brains are collaborating to create a masterpiece so unique that it perhaps is unimaginable for even the wealthiest of nations in the world to even try to match up to it.

Sheikh Mohammed was born in 1949. He is the third of four sons of HH Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum. On January 4, 2006, HH Sheikh Mohammed became the Ruler of Dubai following the passing away of his brother.

On January 5, 2006, the members of the Supreme Council elected Sheikh Mohammed the Vice-President of the UAE. On February 11, 2006, UAE President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan nominated Sheikh Mohammed to become the Prime Minister of the UAE; the Council approved this nomination.

Sheikh Mohammed is a perfectionist, and seeks to attain excellence in everything he does. Embodying dynamic, energetic and successful leadership, he expects unwavering dedication and positive focus from everyone else who works for the UAE federal government or Dubai government.

He is known all over the world for his philanthropic deeds, for his far-sighted vision, and for setting – and achieving – near-impossible targets. “We, in the UAE, have no such word as “impossible”; it does not exist in our lexicon,” he believes. He is a man who has made promises and kept them; he has insisted on excellence and achieved nothing less; he has defined the role of leadership and fulfilled it.

Since becoming the Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE, and Ruler of Dubai, he has been instrumental in rolling out ground-breaking initiatives at an astonishing rate.

On April 17, 2007, Sheikh Mohammed unveiled the UAE Government Strategy Plan with the aim of achieving sustainable development throughout the country, investing federal resources more efficiently and ensuring due diligence, accountability and transparency across federal bodies.

Through generosity and dedication, Sheikh Mohammed has achieved notable success while shouldering the great responsibility of leading Dubai and the Federal Government.

HH Sheikh Mohammed does not conceal his ambitions for the UAE and Dubai. His Highness has maintained that the progress so far is a mere 10 per cent fraction of what he envisages to achieve, and that the new growth phase will be much larger and much more profound than the previous ones.

Anyone who has had the chance to hear HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum explaining his vision about the future of Dubai can conclusively say that whatever the emirate has achieved so far is truly the mere tip of the iceberg. HH Sheikh Mohammed personally follows up the implementation of those projects and pays surprise visits to government departments in order to assess their real performance on the ground.

Unlike the mirage in the middle of a desert, Dubai’s growth is substantial and has allowed the emirate to emerge from oil dependency and transform itself into a global economic powerhouse. With infrastructure and construction projects worth tens of billions of dollars moving at a rapid pace in the emirate, Dubai remains a huge construction zone designed to create a diversified economy. Dubai is indeed a city ‘under construction’ in more ways than one.

A city that has no dearth of capital, culture or confidence, Dubai today plays a strategic role in regional and global logistics and financial transactions. To add to the party, it has also attracted a cluster of innovative, technology-intensive international companies in a variety of sectors

Most analysts believe that what Dubai has achieved is not only unique in that it has managed to do so in such a short period, but also that it won’t be easy for any other city or country in the Middle East or beyond to replicate Dubai's model. One of the key factors setting Dubai apart is the leadership's willingness to take the risk of pursuing the vision of a diversified economic structure that would hold the emirate in good stead whatever the regional or global economic climate might be.

Making geography history, Dubai’s investment arms have worked their way around the globe to make strategic investments in a wide gamut of sectors and segments. There have in fact been a large number of big-ticket international acquisitions and transactions involving the various investment arms of the Dubai government in the last few years, all part of the larger strategy of the Dubai government to further diversify its revenue sources and therefore continue to maintain the rapid-fire growth rate of its economy.

With its vibrant economy, an emerging class of home-grown multinational corporations which are as able as they are eager to participate in the global growth party through a spate of multi-billion dollar acquisitions and a growing population of entrepreneurs, Dubai is reshaping business as we know it and redefining the global economy.

But no one has the complete story. For, it has just begun.