Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum (Arabic: محمد بن راشد آل مكتوم‎; Muḥammad bin Rāshid ʾĀl Maktūm; born 15 July 1949) is the Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), its Minister of Defence, and ruler of the Emirate of Dubai.[1] He succeeded his brother Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum as the ruler of Dubai in 2006 after his death.[2]

Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum
Mohamedu bin Rašidu Almaktūmu.jpg
Sheikh Mohammed in 2012
Vice President of the United Arab Emirates
In office5 January 2006 – present
PredecessorMaktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum
PresidentKhalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan
4th Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates
In office11 February 2006 – present
PredecessorMaktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum
PresidentKhalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan
In office9 December 1971 – present
PredecessorPosition established
Reign4 January 2006 – present
PredecessorMaktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum
Born (1949-07-15) 15 July 1949 (age 72)
Al Shindagha, Dubai, Trucial States
(now United Arab Emirates)
Randa bint Mohammed Al Banna
(m. 1972, divorced)
(m. 1979)
(m. 2004; div. 2019)
  • Delila Aloula (divorced)
  • Houria Ahmed Lamara (divorced)
  • Zoe Grigorakos (divorced)
IssueSee list
Mohamed bin Rashid bin Saeed bin Maktoum Al Maktoum
Arabicمحمد بن راشد ال مكتوم
HouseAl Maktoum
FatherRashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum
MotherLatifa bint Hamdan Al Nahyan
Police career
DepartmentDubai Police Force
Service years1968–1970
RankHead of Dubai Police and Public Security
WebsiteOfficial website

A billionaire,[3] Al Maktoum generates most of his income from real estate and is described as "one of the world's most prominent real estate developers". Land which is owned by him is managed as an asset of the state.[4] There is a blurred line between the assets of the Government of Dubai and those of the ruling Al Maktoum family.[4] He oversaw the growth of Dubai into a global city,[5][6] as well as the launch of a number of government-owned enterprises including Emirates Airline, DP World, and the Jumeirah Group. Some of these are held by Dubai Holding. Sheikh Mohammed has overseen the development of certain projects in Dubai including the creation of a technology park, a free economic zone, Dubai Internet City, Dubai Media City,[7] the Dubai International Finance Centre, the Palm Islands[8] and the Burj Al Arab hotel. He also drove the construction of Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world.[9]

Al Maktoum is the absolute ruler of Dubai and Prime Minister of UAE,[10] a position appointed by the president.[11] The government is autocratic, as there are no democratic institutions, and internal dissent is prohibited.[12][13][14][15] It is characterized by scholars as authoritarian.[16][17]

On 5 March 2020, a British court ruled that on the balance of probabilities, he had abducted two of his daughters and had threatened his former wife, Princess Haya.[18] Allegedly his daughters, Shamsa and Latifa, were forcibly medicated while held in Dubai under Al Maktoum's orders since 2000 and 2018, respectively.[19] On 16 February 2021, BBC's Panorama broadcast a documentary featuring Princess Latifa's video messages that she made secretly under enforced detention in Dubai on the orders of Sheikh Mohammed.[20]

He is an equestrian and is the founder of the Maktoum family-owned Godolphin stable and the owner of Darley, a thoroughbred breeding operation, operational in six countries. In 2012, he rode the horse Madji Du Pont 160 km to take the FEI World Endurance Championship.[21]

Early lifeEdit

Sheikh Mohammed is the third of Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum's four sons, members of Dubai's ruling Al Maktoum family and descendants of the House of Al-Falasi, of which Sheikh Mohammed is the tribal leader.[22] His mother was Sheikha Latifa bint Hamdan Al Nahyan, daughter of Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, formerly the ruler of Abu Dhabi.[23]


From the age of four, Al Maktoum was privately tutored in Arabic and Islamic Studies. In 1955, he began his formal education at Al Ahmedia School. At the age of 10, he moved to Al Shaab School, and two years later, went to Dubai Secondary School. In 1966, with his cousin Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum, he attended the Bell Educational Trust's English Language School in the United Kingdom.[24][better source needed] He subsequently studied at the Mons Officer Cadet School in Aldershot (which later became a part of Sandhurst), passing out with the sword of honour as the top Commonwealth student.[25] He also traveled to Italy to train as a pilot.[26]

Political careerEdit

Dubai PoliceEdit

Sheikh Mohammed at the Dubai Air Show in 2007

On his return from military training to Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed's father appointed him as the head of the Dubai Police Force and the Dubai Defence Force, which later became a part of the Union Defence Force.[27][28]

Minister of DefenceEdit

As a young man, in January 1968, he was present when Sheikh Rashid and Sheikh Zayed first met in the desert between Dubai and Abu Dhabi at Argoub El Sedira[29] to agree to the formation of a union of emirates following British notification of intent to withdraw from the Trucial States. When the new nation of the United Arab Emirates was founded on 2 December 1971, he became its first Minister of Defence at the age of 22.[30][28]

A period of uncertainty and instability followed the Union of the United Arab Emirates, including skirmishes between tribes over property, straddling new borders. On 24 January 1972, the exiled former ruler of the Emirate of Sharjah, Saqr bin Sultan Al Qasimi led an insurrectionist coup against the ruler, Khalid bin Mohammed Al Qasimi.[31] Following a spirited firefight between the Union Defence Force and Saqr's forces - mostly Egyptian mercenaries who had entered the UAE through Ras Al Khaimah[29] – Sheikh Mohammed accepted Saqr's surrender.[31] Sheikh Khalid had been killed in the action, leading to the accession of his brother, Sultan bin Muhammad Al-Qasimi, as ruler of Sharjah. Mohammed delivered Saqr to Sheikh Zayed, who put him under house arrest in Al Ain.[32]

In 1973, Sheikh Mohammed was involved in protracted negotiations with the hijackers of JAL 404, led by Japanese Red Army member Osamu Maruouka, which landed in Dubai after being hijacked as it departed Schiphol. Although unsuccessful in obtaining the release of the hostages (they were finally freed, and the 747 blown up, in Libya), he was more successful in a later negotiation with the three hijackers of KLM 861, who released the balance of their hostages and handed over the plane in return for safe passage.[33]

In 1977, he oversaw the integration of Dubai's military forces with those of the other emirates.[28]

Crown Prince of DubaiEdit

Mohammed bin Rashid with then Prime Minister of India Manmohan Singh in March 2010.
The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi meeting the Vice-President and Prime Minister of UAE, HH Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, at Za’abeel Palace, Dubai on August 17, 2015

On 3 January 1995, Sheikh Mohammed's elder brother Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum signed two decrees appointing him and his brother Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum as Crown Prince of Dubai.[34] Sheikh Mohammed, at the time of being appointed crown prince, also served as Minister of Defence, a position he held since 9 December 1971,[27] following his time as Chief of the Dubai Police Force.[27]

He created the Dubai Shopping Festival in late 1995, an annual event that has become a significant contributor to the economy of the UAE.[35]

In 2001, Sheikh Mohammed ordered the arrest of Obaid Saqr bin-Busit, the head of Dubai Customs and the chairman of the World Customs Association.[36]

Mohammed bin Rashid with then President of Argentina Cristina Fernández de Kirchner in April 2014.
Mohammed bin Rashid with then President of Chile Michelle Bachelet in April 2014.

Ruler of Dubai, Vice President, and Prime MinisterEdit

After roughly a decade of de facto rule, he became the Ruler of Dubai on 4 January 2006, upon the death of his brother, Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum.[37] The following day, the Federal National Council selected him as the new Vice President of the UAE. On 11 February, the Council approved President Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan's nomination of Sheikh Mohammed for Prime Minister.[38][better source needed]

Al Maktoum is the absolute monarch of Dubai.[39] The government is described as autocratic, as there are no democratic institutions, and internal dissent is prohibited.[12][13][14][15] Al Maktoum is Prime Minister of the UAE, which scholars characterize as authoritarian.[16][17] According to human rights organizations, there are systematic human rights violations, including the torture and forced disappearance of government critics.[40] There is a blurred line between the assets of the state of Dubai and those of the Al Maktoum ruling family.[4]

Al Maktoum issued a law in 2006 to form the Dubai Establishment for Women Development, renamed by law in 2009 as the Dubai Women’s Establishment.[41][42] He also formed the UAE Gender Balance Council in 2015.[43][44]

On 19 October 2020, he led the UAE Council of Ministers meeting that ratified a peace agreement with Israel, normalizing diplomatic relationships between the countries.[45] The council, again headed by Al Maktoum, approved the decision to found an Emirati embassy in Tel Aviv in January, and Al Maktoum swore in the first Emirati ambassador to Israel, Mahmoud Al Khajah, a month later.[46]

Space explorationEdit

Al Maktoum founded the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre in 2015,[47] which announced it would be launching a spacecraft to Mars to study the planet’s atmosphere;[48] Al Maktoum stated that the planet was chosen for its “epic challenge,”[49] saying it would benefit the Emirati economy.[50] He announced that the mission would be called Hope after a public vote, as the name would "send a message of optimism to millions of young Arabs,"[51] since "Arab civilisation once played a great role in contributing to human knowledge, and [would] play that role again.”[52]

Al Maktoum announced that the Hope mission had succeeded at orbit insertion on 9 February 2021,[53] and shared the first picture the probe had captured days later. Hope became the first Arab mission to space, as well as the first of three missions in July 2020—the others from the US and China—to arrive at Mars.[54][55]

In 2020, Al Maktoum announced a second mission, this one to the moon.[56][57] The Emirates Lunar Mission will use a rover reportedly built entirely in the UAE,[58] and is scheduled for 2022.[59]

Business careerEdit

Maktoum at the World Economic Forum Summit on the Global Agenda, 2008

Al Maktoum has overseen the creation and growth of a number of businesses and economic assets of Dubai, with a number held by two companies under his ownership, Dubai World and Dubai Holding. According to the laws of Dubai, the ruling family owns all undeveloped land in Dubai, which has allowed the family to prosper from real estate development.[4] During Sheikh Mohammed's rule, Dubai has seen enormous population growth, causing a real estate boom in Dubai.[60] The boom was in part facilitated by Sheikh Mohammed's 2002 decree that foreigners would be allowed to purchase property in Dubai.[60]

Al Maktoum established Dubai World by decree,[61] leading to the company's launch on 2 July 2006, as a holding company consolidating a number of assets including logistics company, DP World, property developer Nakheel Properties, and investment company Istithmar World. With more than 50,000 employees in over 100 cities around the globe, the group has real estate, logistics and other business investments in the United States, the United Kingdom, and South Africa. The company is owned by the government of Dubai.[61]

Sheik Mohammed's personal corporate portfolio is the Dubai Holding Group, which is involved in a variety of investments.[61] Dubai Holding benefits from its association with the ruling family of Dubai, and is given free land by the Dubai government.[4]

Al Maktoum was responsible for the launch of Emirates Airline.[62]

Launch of Emirates AirlineEdit

Through the 1970s, as well as his role as head of Dubai Defence Force and UAE Minister of Defence, Al Maktoum oversaw Dubai's energy resources and was in charge of Dubai Civil Aviation. It was in this latter role, in March 1985, that he founded Emirates Airline,[62] tasking then-head of DNATA, Maurice Flanagan, with launching a new airline to be called Emirates after a dispute with Gulf Air over Dubai's 'Open Skies' policy. The launch budget of the airline was $10 million (the amount Flanagan said he needed to launch an airline) and its inaugural flight took place on 25 October 1985.[63][better source needed] Al Maktoum made his (younger) uncle, Ahmed bin Saeed, chairman of the new company. A further $75 million in facilities and materials was provided, but Emirates has always maintained it has received no further subsidies throughout the company's meteoric growth to become one of the world's leading airlines.[63]

In 1989, Al Maktoum inaugurated the first Dubai Airshow. In 2013, the exhibition had grown to over 1,000 exhibiting companies, and was the venue for Emirates' placement of the largest aeroplane order in history, with $99 billion combined orders with Airbus for its A380 and Boeing for its 777X.[64][better source needed]

Burj Al Arab and JumeirahEdit

Burj Al Arab and Jumeirah Beach

The Burj Al Arab was inaugurated in December 1999. The hotel, constructed from a design by WS Atkins in response to a brief from Al Maktoum to create "a truly iconic" building, styles itself as "the world's most luxurious hotel". It was constructed on an island offshore from the Jumeirah Beach Hotel, the first property managed by Jumeirah,[65] the hotel management company launched by Al Maktoum in 1997 and headed by ex-Trust House Forte executive, Gerald Lawless. While work began on both hotels at the same time, the island to house the Burj Al Arab required three years to build before construction began above ground. Jumeirah's international expansion, driven after it became part of Dubai Holding in 2004,[66] encompasses 22 hotels in ten countries.[67]

Dubai Internet City and TECOMEdit

On 29 October 1999, Al Maktoum announced Dubai Internet City, a technology hub and free trade zone. Offering companies long leases, full ownership, and fast access to government services, DIC grew from its first tenants in October 2000, to a current zone employing about 15,000 people.[68][better source needed] In November 2000, it was joined by Dubai Media City, a content and media production-free zone, which is co-located with DIC. The launch of DIC came with assurances from Al Maktoum regarding media freedoms. In 2007, he issued a decree banning the imprisonment of journalists following an incident in which local journalists were accused of libel and sentenced to jail terms.[69]

Palm IslandsEdit

Palm Jumeirah seen from space.

The Palm Islands were developed by Nakheel Properties, which he founded.[62]

Interests, activities and philanthropic workEdit

The Mohammed Bin Rashid Global initiatives (MBRGI)Edit

The Mohammed Bin Rashid Global Initiatives is a charitable foundation which consolidates the work of some 33 charitable foundations, entities and initiatives which, together, implement more than 1,400 development programs, contributing to the support of more than 130 million people in 116 countries in collaboration with over 280 strategic partners, including governmental institutions, private sector companies, as well as regional and international organizations.[70][better source needed]

Mohammed bin Rashid School of GovernmentEdit

The Mohammed bin Rashid School of Government (previously the Dubai School of Government) is an academic and research institution in the area of public policy and administration.[71][better source needed]

Aid to PalestineEdit

He made a grant of 600 houses to Gaza following the 2008-2009 Gaza war.[72]

Conjoined twin surgeryEdit

In 2005, Al Maktoum made an offer to separate conjoined twins in India, but the offer was declined for fears the surgery was too risky.[73]

Aiding mosque construction in the NetherlandsEdit

In 2000, Al Maktoum donated €4 million for the construction of the Essalaam Mosque in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.[74][75]

In June 2017, two new initiatives were added to the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives, within the "Empowering Communities" sector, namely the International Institute for Tolerance and the Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Award for Tolerance. In this respect, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum issued Law No. (9) of 2017 on the Establishment of the International Institute for Tolerance and Decree No. (23) of 2017 on the Formation of a Board of Trustees and Decree No. (28) of 2017 on the Appointment of a Managing Director for the International Institute for Tolerance. In this respect, Law No. (9) of 2017 includes the launch of the Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Award for Tolerance, administered in accordance with the provisions and statute of said Law. Hence, the establishment of the International Institute for Tolerance aims at instilling a spirit of tolerance across the community, building a cohesive society, strengthening the UAE's standing and position as a model of tolerance, as well as renouncing extremism and all forms of discrimination among people on the basis of religion, sex, race, color or language, in addition to honoring all entities and institutions contributing to the promotion of tolerance and open, interfaith dialogue.[76]

Sporting interestsEdit

Sheikh Mohammed is a major figure in international thoroughbred horse racing and breeding. He owns Darley Stud, the biggest horse breeding operation in the world with farms in the United States, Ireland, England, and Australia. In 1985 he bought the Irish thoroughbred Park Appeal for an undisclosed sum at the end of her second season. She went on to produce at least nine winners from twelve foals and is the ancestor of many successful horses.[77]

Al Maktoum had raced horses as a child (he would share his breakfast with his horse on the way to school)[78] but he attended his first formal race at Newmarket in 1967, with his brother Hamdan, watching Royal Palace win the 2,000 guineas.[79][better source needed] Becoming an owner in his own right, ten years later he won his first race with Hatta at Brighton. And five years after that, he and Hamdan had three studs and 100 horses under training.[80]

In late 1981, he purchased Gainsborough Stud at Woolton Hill, near Newbury, Berkshire, United Kingdom. He owns Ballysheehan Stud in County Tipperary, Ireland; as well as Gainsborough Farm Inc. in Versailles, Kentucky, United States. His racing operations include the ownership of Darley Stables and he is the leading partner in his family's Godolphin Stables. Al Maktoum hosts the Dubai World Cup at Meydan Racecourse.

By 1992, Al Maktoum had started 'wintering' his horses in Dubai, frequently against the advice of trainers and pundits in the UK. The results were a string of high-profile wins, and by 1994 he founded Godolphin. In 1995, his hands-on approach to racing resulted in a major split with leading trainer Henry Cecil after a disagreement over racing a horse Mohammed insisted was injured. Cecil took the argument public and Mohammed removed all his horses from Cecil's stable.[81]

Godolphin's first win, Balanchine taking the Oaks at Epsom Downs, England, in 1994, was to mark the beginning of a winning streak with horses such as: Lammtarra, Daylami, Fantastic Light, Street Cry, Sulamani, Dubawi, and Ramonti among them. Dubai Millennium, said to be Al Maktoum's favourite, won nine of his ten starts before succumbing to injury followed by grass sickness in 2001.[82]

In 1996, the Dubai World Cup was inaugurated as the world's richest horserace, drawing the legendary American dirt track horse Cigar to race in Dubai. Today, held at the Meydan Racecourse, the race meeting carries a prize of $27 million.

In the UK, his horses have won Group One races including several of the British Classic Races. His horses have also won the Irish Derby Stakes, the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe and, the 2006 Preakness Stakes with Bernardini in the US. In 2008, he bought the Woodlands Stud empire for more than $460 million.[83]

Mohammed bin Rashid participating in an endurance riding.

At the age of 63, Al Maktoum won the 2012 World Endurance Championship over a 160 km course.[84] Both his thoroughbreds and endurance horses have failed drug tests – although his trainers (including Mahmood Al Zarooni) have accepted the blame. His endurance racing stable has also been involved in other scandals, including both fatal injuries, and ringers.[85]

In 2015, the FEI suspended the United Arab Emirates following a series of scandals.[86]

In the 15th Asian Games in 2006, his son Rashid took the individual gold in endurance riding. His sons Rashid, Ahmed, Majid, and, Hamdan took the team gold in endurance riding,[87] his niece Latifa took a bronze in show jumping,[88] and his daughter Maitha led the UAE team in taekwondo.[89] In 2013 when the UAE National football team won the Gulf Cup, Al Maktoum gave the team 50 million dirhams ($13.7 million). His wife awarded the team a further 25 million dirhams ($6.8 million), while the pair's grandsons contributed 12 million dirhams ($3.3 million).[90]

Godolphin's Cross Counter, ridden by Kerrin McEvoy and trained by Charlie Appleby won the 2018 Melbourne Cup.[91][92]

Support of the artsEdit

Al Maktoum is a poet in classical Arabic as well as the Bedouin (colloquial) Nabati style.[93][better source needed]

In 1998, he set up the Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Centre for Cultural Understanding (SMCCU), a not-for-profit organisation that aims to raise awareness and demystify the local culture, customs, and religion of the United Arab Emirates. Operating under the motto "Open Doors. Open Minds", SMCCU aims to improve cross-cultural understanding and communication between UAE locals and guests visiting or residing in the UAE.[94] An initiative by Al Maktoum in 2015 saw Dubai's Metro stations turned into art galleries in the period leading up to Art Dubai 2015.[95]

He established the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Patrons of the Arts Awards in March 2009 to honour individuals and organisations who have contributed towards arts development in Dubai. The award allows artists and projects to benefit from the private sector's support under four categories: Distinguished Patrons of the Arts (AED 15 million), Patrons of the Arts (AED 2–5 million), Supporters of the Arts (AED 500,000), and Friends of the Arts (AED 50,000–500,000). The award aims to grant financial or in kind support to the visual and performing arts, literature, and film sectors, which contribute to enriching the artistic and cultural scene in Dubai.[96][better source needed]


Sheikha Latifa and Sheikha Shamsa kidnap allegationsEdit

An early 2000s British police investigation of allegations, made by a former riding instructor, about the attempted escape from her family estate in England, and subsequent kidnapping on a street in Cambridge of Sheikha Latifa's sister Sheikha Shamsa Al Maktoum in 2001, was inconclusive.[97]

Sheikh Mohammed's daughter Latifa escaped Dubai before being captured in the Indian Ocean

On 11 March 2018, a video was released of Sheikha Latifa, one of Sheikh Mohammed's daughters,[98][99][100] after her failed attempt to flee the UAE and subsequent disappearance,[101] in which she claimed she was fleeing from her family, made allegations of abuse, and said her father was responsible for a number of murders, including the murder of his deceased older brother's wife. The escape attempt was the focus of a documentary by Australian broadcaster Nine News as well as BBC Newsnight investigation.[102][103]

In December 2018, former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson, after meeting Sheikha Latifa in the presence of other family members, said that the princess was now in the loving care of her family. Her statement was criticised by human rights groups, who said that Robinson would not have been able to tell in the meeting whether Latifa truly had psychological issues.[104] A spokeswoman for ″The Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice″ confirmed that Robinson was approached by Princess Haya, one of Sheikh Al Maktoum's wives, an old friend of Robinson's, and was requested to go to Dubai by Princess Haya and that Haya paid the fare, less than two weeks after the BBC ran a documentary detailing the princess' failed escape attempt in March.[105][106][107] Ms. Robinson admits she was "horribly tricked" when photographs of the private lunch were made public and that both she and Haya had been told of details of Latifa's bipolar disorder, a condition which she does not have.[108] Marcus Essabri, Latifa's cousin, reported Latifa's photos with Mary Robinson seems to show Latifa medicated while held in Dubai under Sheikh Maktoum's orders.[19] She has not been seen in public since.

In February 2021 video footage obtained by the BBC shows Princess Latifa saying she has been "a hostage" for over a year "with no access to medical help" in "solitary confinement" without access to medical or legal help in a "villa jail" with windows and doors barred shut, and guarded by police. The governments of Dubai and UAE have not responded to requests for comment from the BBC, they have always said Latifa is safe in the loving care of her family.[109] Despite her family's insistence that she has been enjoying time with them at home the past two years, Sheikha Latifa says in the series of videos released by her advocates that she is "a hostage" and fears for her life. "Every day, I'm worried about my safety in my life. I don't really know if I'm going to survive this situation." "The police threaten me that they would take me outside and shoot me if I didn't cooperate with them," she said. "They also threatened me that I would be in prison my whole life and I'll never see the sun again."[110][111]

In 2021, investigative reporting into the Pegasus spyware found that Latifa's name was added to a list of names that were potential targets of the spyware just days before she was seized by Sheikh Maktoum's commandos on a yacht in an attempt to flee.[112]

Princess Haya escapeEdit

On 29 June 2019, The Sun reported that the wife of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, Princess Haya bint Hussein, had fled Dubai and was in Germany seeking political asylum along with her children, a son and a daughter. Media reports also asserted that the Princess had taken £31 million with her.[113][114][115] The cause of the departure was unknown,[116] despite a poem alluding to betrayal.[116][117] On 30 July 2019 at the High Court, she filed for the sole custody of their two children, for a forced marriage protection order (FMPO), a non-molestation order, and non-repatriation to Dubai.[118] The next court proceedings and initial deliberations were scheduled on 11 November 2019.[119]

In December 2019, a UK family court ruled that—on the balance of probabilities—Sheikh Mohammed had orchestrated the abductions of Sheikha Latifa and Sheikha Shamsa and that he continued to maintain a regime whereby both were deprived of their liberty. Also on the balance of probabilities, that he had subjected his former wife, Princess Haya, to a campaign of "intimidation"; the findings were published in March 2020.[120][121][18]

In October 2021, the High Court ruled that agents of Sheikh Mohammed used the Israeli Pegasus spyware to hack the phones of Princess Haya, her solicitors, a personal assistant and two members of her security team in the summer of 2020. The court ruled that the agents acted "with the express or implied authority" of the sheikh; he denied knowledge of the hacking. The judgment referred to the hacking as "serial breaches of (UK) domestic criminal law", "in violation of fundamental common law and ECHR rights", "interference with the process of this court and the mother's access to justice" and "abuse of power" by a head of state.[122]

Child camel jockeysEdit

In 2006, a UNICEF-sponsored program with the UAE government resulted in the repatriation of hundreds of children formerly enslaved as camel jockeys, and provided them with social services and compensation upon return to their home countries of Pakistan, Sudan, Mauritania, and Bangladesh. The UAE government set aside US$2.7 million in initial funding in 2005 with an additional $9 million for the second phase, and to enforce compliance, adopted a law officially banning the practice with penalties of jail time and a $27,200 fine.[123] UNICEF endorsed the UAE's efforts and expressed the hopes that "the UAE's programme will serve as a model to other countries in the region, as a means of ending all forms of exploitation of children".[124]

In September 2006, Al Maktoum was accused of encouraging the abduction and enslavement of thousands of boys for use as jockeys in camel races. A class-action suit was filed against him in the US state of Florida.[125][126][127] In 2006, American lawyers representing the UAE raised a motion to dismiss the lawsuit on the grounds that none of the involved parties resided in the U.S., arguing that the UN program best served the interests of the children. In July 2007, judge Cecilia Altonaga accepted the motion and dismissed the suit.[128]

Horse racing drugs scandalEdit

In April 2013, Al Maktoum's Godolphin stables trainer Mahmood Al Zarooni was disqualified for eight years from thoroughbred horse racing by the British Horseracing Authority for administering steroids to eleven racehorses. Al Maktoum stated that he was “appalled and angered” by the case and announced that the stable would be locked down while drug tests were carried out on all horses who were under Al Zarooni's care.[129] In May, Al Maktoum as Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, issued a decree outlawing and criminalizing the use of anabolic steroids on horses in the United Arab Emirates.[130]

In October 2013, scandal returned to Sheikh Mohammed in the venue of horseracing, with reports of potentially toxic and dangerous steroids, anaesthetics, and anti-inflammatory drugs being shipped into UAE, mislabeled as "horse tack". The Telegraph commented that a "PR campaign is already underway, with Sheikh Mohammed again cast as a victim of employee malpractice".[131]

Pandora PapersEdit

In October 2021, an investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) revealed that over 330 prominent politicians and public officials across the world had ties with offshore companies. Amongst them were 35 current and former world leaders. The leaked 11.9 million files revealed that Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum also used offshore companies to manage and expand his wealth. In order to carry out his dealings, he secretly registered three companies in the tax havens of the British Virgin Islands (BVI) and the Bahamas. Registered by an Emirati firm, Axiom Limited, the three companies were Tandem Investco Limited and Tandem DirectorCo Limited in BVI and Allied International Investments Limited in the Bahamas. Partly owned by the Dubai Holding, in which Sheikh Mohammed owns major shares, Axiom Limited used the three companies to “expand its core business”.[132] [133] [134]

Personal lifeEdit

Sheikh Mohammed has had at least six wives.[135]

Mohammed's sixth wife was Princess Haya bint Hussein, daughter of King Hussein of Jordan and half-sister of King Abdullah II of Jordan.[136]

Wealth and assetsEdit

In 2021, the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project estimated that Sheikh Mohammed owned assets worth $14 billion.[3]

Sheikh Mohammed owns the yacht Dubai, built by the German company Blohm + Voss and designed by English designer Andrew Winch, who owns Winch Design. The yacht is 162 metres (531 ft) long, and was the world's third largest yacht as of 2014, with the capacity for up to 115 people including crew.[137] Another personal yacht of the Sheikh is the 40 metres (130 ft) Alloya, built by Sanlorenzo in 2013.[138][139]

He owns real estate in the United Kingdom worth more than 100 million British pounds, as well as properties in Rome through a company registered in Luxembourg.[3] According to a 2021 analysis by The Guardian and Transparency International, Sheikh Mohammed is one of the largest landowners in the UK, owning more than 100,000 acres.[140] The exact number of properties is not fully clear, as most of the properties connected to him are owned through offshore companies in the tax havens of Guernsey and Jersey.[140] Asked about these holdings, Sheikh Mohammed's lawyer rejected that the properties were bought through offshore companies or that the holdings were intended to avoid UK taxes.[140]

In the 2021 Pandora Papers leaks, it was revealed that Sheikh Mohammed was a shareholder in three additional companies registered in jurisdictions allowing secrecy.[141]

Wives and childrenEdit

Sheikh Mohammed has thirty children between his different wives.

Wives and children
Name Birth Death Spouse Children
Sheikha Hind bint Maktoum bin Juma Al Maktoum (First Lady of Dubai marriage 1979)
Hessa bint Mohammed Al Maktoum 6 November 1980 Saeed bin Dalmouk Al Maktoum
  • Hind bint Saeed Al Maktoum (born 25 November 2009)
  • Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum (born 20 May 2012)
  • Salama bint Saeed Al Maktoum (born 17 July 2018)
Rashid bin Mohammed Al Maktoum 12 November 1981[142] 19 September 2015[143] Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum
Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum 14 November 1982 Sheikha bint Saeed bin Thani Al Maktoum[144]
  • Rashid bin Hamdan Al Maktoum (born 20 May 2021)
  • Sheikha bint Hamdan Al Maktoum (20 May 2021)
Maktoum bin Mohammed Al Maktoum 24 November 1983 Maryam bint Butti Al Maktoum[146] Hind bint Maktoum Al Maktoum (born 24 November 2020)
Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Maktoum 7 February 1987 Madiyah bint Dalmook Al Maktoum[146]
Saeed bin Mohammed Al Maktoum 20 March 1988
Latifa bint Mohammed Al Maktoum (III) 30 March 1989[147] Mohammed bin Hamad bin Mohammed Al Sharqi[148]
  • Hamad bin Mohammed Al Sharqi (born 29 December 2009)
  • Aisha bint Mohammed Al Sharqi (born 1 November 2011)
  • Fatima bint Mohammed Al Sharqi (born 11 March 2014)
  • Rashid bin Mohammed Al Sharqi (born 15 December 2015)
  • Hind bint Mohammed Al Sharqi (born 22 June 2020)
Maryam bint Mohammed Al Maktoum (II) 11 January 1992 Khaled bin Mohammed bin Hamdan Al Nahyan
  • Mohammed bin Khaled Al Nahyan (born 25 September 2020)
  • Hamdan bin Khaled Al Nahyan (born 25 August 2021)
Sheikha bint Mohammed Al Maktoum 20 December 1992[149] Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa
  • Sheema bint Nasser Al Khalifa (born 16 July 2010)
  • Hamad bin Nasser Al Khalifa (born 6 June 2012)
  • Mohammed bin Nasser Al Khalifa (born 6 June 2012)
  • Hamdan bin Nasser Al Khalifa (born 28 October 2018)[citation needed]
Futaim bint Mohammed Al Maktoum 22 July 1994[150]
Salamah bint Mohammed Al Maktoum 8 August 1999
Shamma bint Mohammed Al Maktoum 13 November 2001
Princess Haya bint Hussein (marriage 10 April 2004) (divorce 7 February 2019)
Al Jalila bint Mohammed Al Maktoum[151] 2 December 2007
Zayed bin Mohammed bin Al Maktoum[151] 7 January 2012
Lebanese-born wife Sheikha Randa bint Mohammed Al-Banna[152][153][154] (marriage 1972) (divorced)
Manal bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum 12 November 1977 Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan
  • Fatima bint Mansour Al Nahyan (born 9 June 2006)
  • Mohammed bin Mansour Al Nahyan (born 4 December 2007)
  • Hamdan bin Mansour Al Nahyan (born 21 June 2011)
  • Latifa bint Mansour Al Nahyan (born 23 January 2014)
  • Rashid bin Mansoor Al Nahyan (born 22 March 2017)[155]
Lebanese-born wife Sheikha Delila Aloula (marriage unknown) (divorce unknown)
Dalal bint Mohammed Al Maktoum 25 December[when?]
Latifa bint Mohammed Al Maktoum (I) 16 June 1983 Faisal bin Saud bin Khalid Al Qassimi
  • Mohammed bin Faisal Al Qassimi (born 28 July 2018)
  • Shaikha bint Faisal Al Qassimi (29 October 2020)
Maryam bint Mohammed Al Maktoum (I) 11 August 1987 Suhail bin Ahmed Al Maktoum
  • Fatima bint Suhail Al Maktoum (born 26 September 2019)
  • Ahmed bin Suhail Al Maktoum (born 1 December 2020)
Algerian-born wife Sheikha Houria Ahmed Lamara (marriage unknown) (divorce unknown)
Maitha bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum 5 March 1980
Shamsa bint Mohammed Al Maktoum 15 August 1981
Latifa bint Mohammed Al Maktoum (II) 5 December 1985
Majid bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum 16 October 1987[156] Hessa Beljafla
  • Mohammed bin Majid Al Maktoum (born 15 July 2015)
  • Dubai bint Majid Al Maktoum (born 15 July 2015)
  • Maitha bint Majid Al Maktoum (born 17 May 2017)
  • Rashid bin Majid Al Maktoum (born 2 February 2019)
Mansour bin Mohammed Al Maktoum 26 June 1989
Unknown wife – possibly of German origin (marriage unknown) (divorce unknown)
Marwan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum 20 March 1981 Dalal Al Marzouqi
  • Mohammed bin Marwan Al Maktoum
  • Rashid bin Marwan Al Maktoum
Greek-origin Mrs. Zoe Grigorakos (marriage unknown) (divorce unknown)
Mahra bint Mohammed Al Maktoum 26 February 1994[157]


See alsoEdit


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Further readingEdit

  • Maktoum, Mohammed (2012). My Vision: Challenges in the Race for Excellence. UAE: Motivate. ISBN 978-1-86063-344-7. Vision for governance.
  • Maktoum, Mohammed (2012). Spirit of the Union. UAE: Motivate. ISBN 978-1-86063-330-0. Talks about UAE independence & union.
  • Maktoum, Mohammed (2013). Flashes of Thought. UAE: Motivate. ISBN 978-1-86063-356-0. A number of insights into policy, attitude & approach to leadership.
  • Dubai The Maktoum Story by John M. Smith; in English; a book which criticizes the governance of Sheikh Mohammed

External linksEdit

Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum
Born: 15 July 1949
Regnal titles
Preceded by Ruler of Dubai
Political offices
Preceded by Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates