A country in mourning for Sheikh Rashid

Sudden death of Dubai ruler’s oldest son has put the UAE back into a solemn state of mind

A deeply solemn month has had an extra level of sadness added to it with the shocking news that Sheikh Rashid bin Mohammed Al Maktoum has died of a heart attack. He was the eldest son of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and had forged a reputation in the fields of business and sport.

The President, Sheikh Khalifa, led the messages of condolence, echoed by Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, who expressed sympathy for the Maktoum family over their loss. Similar messages poured in from all levels of society within the UAE, the region and around the world. Three days of mourning was declared by the President, with flags flown at half mast throughout the country.

Coming so soon after the deaths of UAE servicemen in Yemen, including 52 in an attack on a military installation in Marib province just over two weeks ago, this news has added to an already deeply sombre moment. As one reader notes, there are “too many painful stories coming out of the country this month”.

Sheikh Rashid was born in November 1981 and was educated in Dubai before attending Sandhurst military academy in the UK, graduating in 2002. He later established extensive business interests within the Emirates.

He was also known for his support of sports, both as a participant and as an organiser. Sheikh Rashid won two gold medals in 2006 at the Doha Asian Olympics in the 120km endurance riding category. This was part of his tally of 25 wins, 32 second places and 13 third places during a riding career that spanned more than 150 races.

It has been an agonising month, one in which a deep sense of loss and sadness has coursed through the country. Amid the grief and the tears there has been a sense of togetherness and tenderness. Sheikh Rashid’s death only adds to the solemn reflection.