14 facts about Sheikh Hamdan to celebrate 14 years as Crown Prince of Dubai

Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed became Crown Prince of Dubai on February 1, 2008

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February 1 marks the anniversary of Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed becoming Crown Prince of Dubai.

In his 14 years in the role, Sheikh Hamdan has become a much-loved figure across the UAE and around the world.

His love of adventure and animals, and his forward-thinking nature and passion for the country, have gained him millions of social media followers and countless celebrity friends.

13 years since Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed became Crown Prince of Dubai

13 years since Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed became Crown Prince of Dubai

Sheikh Hamdan, regularly referred to by his nickname Fazza, has also been instrumental in shaping Dubai into what it is today, launching initiatives to make the city an even more vibrant, healthy and enjoyable place in which to live and visit.

To celebrate his 14 years as Crown Prince, here are 14 things you need to know about him:

1. Why we call him Fazza

Like his father, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Hamdan writes poetry, which he sometimes shares online.

Fazza means "a person who speeds to the help and support of others". From the Emirati dialect, it's a term often used in Nabati poetry, which is a common art form in the UAE.

Sheikh Hamdan has described his poetry as "my identity and poetic character through which I humbly attempt to rekindle joy in the hearts of people, alleviate their suffering in my own simple way. I express their hopes and aspirations".

Some of his poems have been turned into songs.

2. He is at home in the great outdoors

Whether it be skydiving, jet-skiing, hiking, snowboarding or zip-lining, Dubai's Crown Prince is a verified action man. His adventures are often shared on his Instagram page.

3. He studied at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst

More than 200 Emiratis have studied at the British military school, including his father, Sheikh Mohammed.

Over the years, Sheikh Hamdan has shared photos from his time at Sandhurst, which he attended after studying at Rashid School For Boys.

Of his education, he told Vision magazine in 2012: "Education is so important in life – it is the key to everything that follows.

"My studies here in Dubai, then in the United Kingdom, opened my eyes to a world of possibilities. Education, knowledge and understanding enable you to look beyond today to new horizons.

“What you learn in prominent military academies like Sandhurst revolves around the values of discipline, responsibility and commitment. These values are practically essential to carry out your responsibilities competently.”

4. He is a keen fisherman

The UAE royal often shares photos of himself free-diving and deep-sea fishing.

A photo of his catch-of-the-day frequently follows soon after:

5. He is a real animal lover

Sheikh Hamdan seems to have a natural affinity with animals – from dogs and falcons to giraffes and baby deer.

He has even gone with a group of UAE conservationists to assist in trimming a giraffe’s hooves.

6. He is particularly passionate about horses

Although many animals are posted on Sheikh Hamdan's Instagram, horses seem to be a favourite.

The royal has ridden horses since childhood, taking part in endurance racing on horseback. He also owns race horses.

Sheikh Hamdan has won international and regional endurance riding medals.

7. He is very fitness-focused

Sheikh Hamdan is on a mission to make the UAE a healthier place.

Through the Dubai Fitness Challenge, he encourages residents of the emirate to workout for 30 minutes a day for 30 consecutive days.

He often posts photos of himself working out, whether it's in a gym, cycling or on an obstacle course, such as Sandstorm DXB, in which he took part in 2017.

8. He is a real family man

Barely a month goes by without a photo of one of his nieces or nephews popping up on his Instagram.

The posts often include a heart emoji, or an "I miss you" message to his young family members.

9. He is a new father

In 2021, Sheikh Hamdan became a first-time father – to twins. The Crown Prince and his wife, Sheikha Sheikha bint Saeed, welcomed a boy and a girl, Rashid and Sheikha, in May.

Since their birth, Sheikh Hamdan has shared a few snippets of the twins on social media, including a post introducing them to his champion horse, Adayar, at Godolphin, the Maktoum family's private stables in the UK.

"Training and education should start early on. Rashid and Shaikha came to see Adayar & wish him the best!", he captioned the snap.

10. He's certainly not afraid of heights

Over the years, Sheikh Hamdan has cemented his reputation as an adrenalin-lover.

But perhaps his scariest exploit was in December, when he climbed to the top of Burj Khalifa, filming himself harnessed on the spire of the world's tallest building.

The video, which he posted alongside the caption “828 metres of excitement”, has been viewed more than 1.8 million times.

Ahead of Ain Dubai opening in October 2021, he also stood on top of one of the observation wheel's pods at the top of the 250-metre structure.

11. He has many celebrity friends

From training with Cristiano Ronaldo to hanging out with UFC champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, Sheikh Hamdan spends time with more than a few A-list celebrities who have become his friends.

He is often pictured meeting stars for meals or in the gym when they visit Dubai. Most recently, he was spotted with Ronaldo visiting SushiSamba on Palm Jumeirah as well as Aura Skypool.

12. He loves photography

For a man who goes on as many adventures as Sheikh Hamdan, it's only natural that an interest in photography should follow.

His Instagram page is awash with stunning photos of Dubai and other landscapes around the world, but he has also been instrumental in attracting other people to the art form, founding the Hamdan International Photography Award in 2011.

13. He is keeping the art of falconry alive across the UAE

Only 15 kilometres inland from Jumeirah Beach, Sheikh Hamdan has a private falconry centre the size of an aircraft hangar.

The "mind-blowing" centre, which The National toured last year, has a falcon hospital and control room.

It plays a crucial part in the Crown Prince's many impressive competition wins in the sport. The centre is home to Fazza's breeding and training programme.

14. He's passionate about the environment

Much like his love for animals, he has also shown his support for many environmental causes over the years.

Most recently, he joined Dubai's Jumeirah Group in its conservation work, releasing turtle hatchlings back into the ocean.

To help mark World Turtle Day in June, Sheikh Hamdan and the team released 45 hawksbill turtles, and 20 hatchlings from the Emirates Marine Environmental Group’s Jebel Ali Reserve.

- An earlier version of this story first appeared on The National in February 2021