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Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum (Arabic محمد بن راشد آل مكتوم; ), also Sheikh Mohammed, (born July 15, 1947), is the Prime Minister and Vice President of the United Arab Emiratesmarker (UAE), and the Emir of Dubaimarker.

Personal life and education

He is the third of Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum's four sons (members of Dubai's ruling family Al Maktoum and descendants of the House of Al-Falasi, of which he is the tribal leader). From the age of four, Sheikh Mohammed 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, he went to Dubai Secondary School. In August 1966, he and his cousin, Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al-Maktoum, attended the Bell Educational Trust's English Language School in the United Kingdommarker.

His senior wife is Sheikha Hind bint Maktoum bin Juma Al Maktoum whom he married in 1979. His junior wife is HRH Princess Haya bint Al Hussein, daughter of King Hussein of Jordan and half-sister of current King Abdullah II of Jordan, whom he married on April 10, 2004, and has one child, a daughter, AlJalila, born December 2, 2007. Sheikh Mohammed has 19 children: eight sons and eleven daughters.

Al Maktoum, his sons, and his daughters are known to be avid in the art of traditional Arabic poems, arts, taking part in projects to aid developing countries such as Jordanmarker, Egyptmarker, Palestine and Yemenmarker. They are also sport enthusiasts, especially in horse and camel racing. For example, in the 15th Asian Games in 2006, son Rashid took the individual gold in Endurance, sons Rashid, Ahmed, Majid, and Hamdan took the team gold in Endurance; niece Latifa took a bronze in Show Jumping; and daughter Maitha led the UAE team in taekwondo .

Thoroughbred horse racing

Sheikh Mohammed is a major figure in international thoroughbred horse racing and breeding. In late 1981, he purchased Gainsborough Stud at Woolton Hillmarker, near Newburymarker, Berkshire, United Kingdommarker. He owns Ballysheehan Stud in County Tipperarymarker, Ireland. He also owns Gainsborough Farms Inc in Versailles, Kentuckymarker. His racing operations includes the ownership of Darley Stables and he is the leading partner in his family's Godolphin Stablesmarker. Sheikh Mohammed hosts the Dubai World Cup, the world's richest series of horse races.

In the UK, his horses have won numerous important Group One races including several of the British Classic Races. His horses have also won the Irish Derby Stakes and the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe and in the United Statesmarker the 2006 Preakness Stakes with Bernardini.

He recently bought the Woodlands Stud empire, the largest in Australia, for $US 420 million. [58725]

Political and business career

On January 3, 1995, Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum signed two decrees that appointed Sheikh Mohammed as Crown Prince of Dubai.

Sheikh Mohammed oversaw the development of numerous projects in Dubai including the creation of the Palm Islands and the luxury Burj Al Arabmarker hotel. He is also promoting the construction of Burj Dubaimarker, which is now the tallest free-standing structure in the world, and will become the official world's tallest building upon its completion in 2009. During his tenure as Crown Prince he set up Dubai Holding, a holding company with multi-diversified businesses and investments. He currently owns 99.67% of the company.

After roughly a decade of de facto rulership, he became the Ruler of Dubai on January 4, 2006 upon the death of his elder brother Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum. He was also nominated by the President of the UAE, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, to be the next Prime Minister and Vice President of the UAE on January 5, 2006. The members of the UAE Federal National Council accepted the President's nomination shortly after.

On July 4, 2006 Sheikh Mohammed pardoned and released U.S. R&B producer Dallas Austin for a conviction of drug possession. Senator Orrin Hatch and musicians Lionel Richie and Quincy Jones aided in the release.

Charity

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum has been known for his vast charitable donations. On May 19, 2007, he announced plans to give $10bn USD to set up the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation, an educational foundation in the Middle East, one of the largest charitable donations in history. Sheikh Mohammed stated that the money is meant to bridge the knowledge gap between the Arab region and the developed world, improving the standard of education and research in the region, developing leadership programs for youth, and stimulating job creation. The announcement was made at the 2007 World Economic Forum in Jordanmarker. His total net worth at present, however, is said to be only $16bn.

Dubai Cares

In September 2007, he launched the Dubai Cares campaign to raise money to educate 1 million children in poor countries. The campaign is Dubai's contribution to the U.N. Millennium Development Goals for providing Children's Primary Education to every child by 2015. The amount donated to this campaign has exceeded AED 3.4 billion (Approximately US$ 910 million).

Noor Dubai

In September 3, 2008, Sheikh Mohammad also launched a new Ramadan initiative under the name "Noor Dubai", aiming to help the World Health Organization (WHO) and International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) in achieving its goals outlined in VISION 2020: the Right to Sight Noor Dubai will treat and provide health services to one million people suffering from treatable blindness and visual impairment in developing countries on a local, regional, and international scale.

Net worth

In 2008, his wealth was estimated at $28 billion USD. This made him the world's fifth richest royal.

In November 2009, his wealth was estimated at $16 billion. This made him the world's fourth richest royal.

Controversies

On 9 March 2007, the London-based Metro newspaper wrongly published a picture of Sheikh Mohammed, attributing it to the terror suspect Khalid Shaikh Mohammed. The Metro has since apologized for the error.

Sheikh Mohammed has been accused of encouraging the abduction and enslavement of thousands of boys for use as jockeys in camel races. A class-action suit has been filed in the United States regarding this matter. However, in 2006, the UAE raised a motion to dismiss the lawsuit on grounds that not only are none of the involved parties residing in the U.S., but also due to it potentially jeopardizing the extensive efforts the UAE government has made in partnership with UNICEF to combat this problem. Since 2005, the joint effort has ensured repatriation of hundreds of children formerly employed as camel jockeys and provided them with social services, education, health care and compensation upon return to their home countries. The UAE government devoted $2.7 million in initial funding in 2005 with an additional $9 million for the second phase which provides compensation and claims facilities in Pakistan, Sudan, Mauritania, and Bangladesh. To enforce compliance, a law was passed banning the practice with penalties of jail time and a $27,200 fine. UNICEF praised the UAE’s efforts and publicly expressing their 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”.

In July 2007, the suit was dismissed by judge Cecilia Altonaga stating the case did not belong in US courts.

References

External links



Further reading

  • My Vision - Challenges in the Race for Excellence by Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum (2006); in Arabic; explains the vision of Sheikh Mohammed for Dubai
  • Dubai The Maktoum Story by John M. Smith; in English; a book which criticizes the governance of Sheikh Mohammed



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