National pride: Sheikha Maitha carries the UAE flag at Bahrain championship in 2003

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid's sporty daughter also represented the nation at the Olympics in 2008

Sheikha Maitha al-Maktum, daughter of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktom, Emirati Defence Minister and Dubai Crown Prince, carries her national flag after winning the single category of the Seventh GCC self-defence Cahmpionship in Manama 31 July 2003. AFP PHOTO/Adam JAN (Photo by ADAM JAN / AFP)
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Sheikha Maitha bint Mohammed bin Rashid, daughter of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, will have plenty of medals in her cabinets. She has excelled in the sporting arena, both in martial arts and equestrian endeavours, achieving international recognition while representing the UAE across the world in karate, taekwondo and polo competitions.

This photo, taken on July 31 in 2003, shows the young royal carrying her national flag after winning the single category of a Gulf-wide self-defence championship in Manama, Bahrain. Three years later, she went on to win a silver medal in the Women’s Over 60kg karate event at the 2006 Asian Games.

Later, in 2008, she led the UAE Olympic team into Beijing’s “Bird’s Nest” stadium and entered the taekwondo competition. While the Emirates did not take home any medals that year, Sheikh Maitha had become the first female athlete from an Arabian Gulf country to carry a national flag.

The now 39-year-old had only taken up martial arts at age 20. By the time she was 31, she turned her attention to polo, after a back injury forced her to retire from combat sports. She has again excelled, and even led the first all-women Emirati team in a match again the men’s team of national polo players in the opening of the 2018-19 season last year.

"Polo, if you ask any polo player, is very addictive, and it changes all the time," the princess told The National in 2014, at the Ralph Lauren International Ladies Polo Tournament. "No two games are the same and the horses keep you going and motivated. It keeps you young."

At the same time, however, she does miss the martial arts. “If there is any way that I can get back into it, I will,” she added.