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Last Updated: Thursday, 5 January 2006, 13:12 GMT
Dubai's ruler Maktoum is buried
Members of the royal family including Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum carry the body of Sheikh Maktoum
Members of the royal family carried Sheikh Maktoum during the funeral
The funeral of Dubai's ruler, Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum, has taken place.

Sheikh Maktoum died on Wednesday at the age of 62, while visiting Australia.

Thousands of mourners, including Arab leaders, gathered at the Zabeel mosque in Dubai, for funeral prayers. He was then interred at the city's cemetery.

Sheikh Maktoum was perhaps best known internationally for his involvement in horse-racing, was also PM and vice- president of the United Arab Emirates.

He had been Dubai's ruler since 1990 but had largely handed over day-to-day control of the emirate to his brother, Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who succeeds him as emir of Dubai.

Sheikh Mohammed has been the UAE defence minister since 1971 and heir apparent to the throne of Dubai since 1995. He has also been confirmed as prime minister and vice-president of the UAE.

Graveside

Correspondents say the normally bustling city was eerily quiet as about 4,500 white-robed Emiratis participated in the funeral prayer.

In accordance with Islamic custom, Sheikh Maktoum's body was wrapped in white cloth on a plain wooden stretcher.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum
Sheikh Mohammed has been Dubai's heir apparent since 1995

The mourners included King Abdullah II of Jordan, the crown princes of Qatar and Morocco, Kuwait's deputy prime minister, Sheik Nawwaf Al Ahmed Al Sabah, and the Duke of Gloucester, who represented Britain's Queen Elizabeth II.

At the graveside, Sheik Mohammed supervised relatives as they lowered the body into the grave and covered it with sand.

A small plain headstone was erected.

New Emir

The new Emir, Sheikh Mohammed has been largely responsible for the phenomenal growth and development of the city in recent years, but with Sheikh Maktoum's blessing.

Map of United Arab Emirates (UAE)

The BBC's Julia Wheeler in Dubai says Sheikh Mohammed is one of the most formidable and impressive sheikhs within the UAE, something which has sparked envy as well as admiration by some in other emirates.

The UAE's supreme council must approve a successor to Sheikh Maktoum as vice-president and prime minister of the federation of seven emirates. This may happen as early as Thursday.

There has been a long term understanding that both posts are held by Dubai, although officials say the constitution does not specify this, our correspondent says.

'Historic leader'

Sheikh Maktoum was staying at a luxury hotel on Queensland's Gold Coast when he died.

"The United Arab Emirates [has] lost a historic leader who devoted his life to establishing the United Arab Emirates and enhancing its structure and the welfare of its people," a statement from the UAE's presidency said on Wednesday.

The Ministry of Presidential Affairs from the neighbouring emirate of Abu Dhabi said Sheikh Maktoum had "placed his country's interest over any other considerations".

"He was a model of good behaviour," the statement added.

Forty days of national mourning were declared on Wednesday.




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



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