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Obituary: Sheikh Maktoum

Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum
Sheikh Maktoum oversaw Dubai's relentless expansion

The ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who has died in Australia at the age of 62, presided over the transformation of the small Middle East kingdom into a thriving modern state.

Sheikh Maktoum was also vice-president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates, a federation of seven Gulf states.

His brother, Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, succeeded him as ruler of Dubai.

Internationally, he was known as co-owner of Dubai's Godolphin stables, which competes in major horse races.

Shy

Born in the family home near the mouth of Dubai Creek in 1943, Sheikh Maktoum was the eldest and most shy of the four sons of the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Rashid Al Maktoum.

He was appointed heir apparent to his father in October 1958, and was educated at Cambridge University in the early 1960s as part of his grooming for the role.

Millennium Grandstand at the Nad al-Sheba racecourse

Sheikh Maktoum served as the UAE's prime minister for most of the 1970s following the formation of the federation in 1971.

But during the 1970s, concern grew in Dubai about the increasing dominance of the largest emirate, Abu Dhabi.

Its ruler Sheikh Zayed, the president of the UAE, had been working towards greater centralisation of government.

Sheikh Maktoum handed over his post as prime minister to his father in 1979 to boost Sheikh Rashid's powers.

He succeeded Sheikh Rashid as ruler of Dubai and UAE prime minister when his father died on 7 October 1990.

Development

While Sheikh Maktoum was the ruler of Dubai, his younger brother Sheikh Mohammed was the driving force behind the astonishing pace of on-going developments in Dubai.

Construction in Dubai
Dubai has successfully married development and Islamic traditions

With the Gulf state's oil reserves fast running out - they now account for just 6% of the emirate's gross domestic product - Sheikh Mohammed has most recently been overseeing the construction of a huge business and leisure park.

It will involve a city of 10m people, compared with the current population of 1.5m and full-scale replicas of the Eiffel Tower and the Great Pyramid of Giza - all part of the legacy in which Sheikh Maktoum played a part.

His family's hold over all significant developments in Dubai is absolute. Members of the royal family occupy all the state's top official positions.

Horse racing

Sheikh Maktoum and his brothers grew up racing horses, and he had a considerable effect on the sport of kings.

Many credit the family with revolutionising racing throughout the world, and their annual Dubai World Cup, the world's richest horse race, helped put kingdom on the map.

As a co-owner of the renowned Godolphin stables, Sheikh Maktoum employed top horse trainers and had a host of big-race winners. He was also the owner of Gainsborough Stud in Newmarket.

Though the brothers have not always enjoyed a harmonious relationship with the racing world - with Sporting Life arguing in 1988 that their influence had become suffocating - there has been a greater appreciation of their contribution in recent years.

SEE ALSO
Racing grieves for Sheikh Maktoum
04 Jan 06 |  Horse Racing
Dubai's ruler Sheikh Maktoum dies
04 Jan 06 |  Middle East
Country profile: United Arab Emirates
22 Dec 05 |  Country profiles
Timeline: United Arab Emirates
03 Dec 05 |  Country profiles


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