Sheikh Mohammed marks 17 years as Ruler of Dubai

The emirate continues its ascent under his leadership

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On January 4, 2006, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid became Ruler of Dubai, following the death of his brother, Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid.

Under his 17 years of rule, Sheikh Mohammed, who is also Vice President and Prime Minister, has turned Dubai into a global centre of tourism, finance and commerce.

A remarkable feat, considering that just a few decades earlier, Dubai was still a small town centred on the Creek.

It was his father, Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed, who first turned what was a small fishing town into a regional commercial centre.

Sheikh Mohammed had a front-row seat to his father's achievements and often accompanied him on key trips, such as to London in 1959 when Sheikh Rashid secured agreement to build Dubai's first airfield. At the time, Dubai was still a British protectorate and Sheikh Mohammed just a boy.

“My father was determined, arguing that he knew what Dubai needed best and he insisted on it,” Sheikh Mohammed wrote. “We won permission to build the airstrip on that trip.”

That airstrip went on to become the world's busiest airport in terms of international passengers.

Sheikh Rashid died in October 1990 and was succeeded by his eldest son, Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid, with Sheikh Mohammed appointed Crown Prince in 1995.

During this time, he oversaw the development of the Burj Al Arab, which opened in September 1999. It was a hotel that introduced Dubai to the world and remains an iconic feature of the skyline.

He is also dedicated to helping those most in need. In 2003, Sheikh Mohammed established the International Humanitarian City, which is now an important global logistics hub for humanitarian aid.

Sheikh Mohammed's lifetime of public service: in pictures

Sheikh Mohammed became Ruler in 2006 after the death of Sheikh Maktoum. Dubai's transformation into a global city happened under his watch. Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building, opened in 2010. Other major projects such as Dubai Marina, Dubai Metro and shopping centres such as Dubai Mall and Mall of the Emirates elevated Dubai even more.

More recently, Sheikh Mohammed ensured Dubai recovered from Covid-19 faster than most countries and also oversaw the safe and successful staging of Expo 2020 Dubai which attracted people from across the globe.

From the small town Sheikh Mohammed was born in, Dubai's population is now about 3.5 million today with people from across the world seeking to live and work in the emirate.

And it already looks like a busy year for 2023. Sheikh Mohammed on January 2 set out the UAE's five key priorities for the year during the first Cabinet meeting of 2023. He said the UAE would focus on consolidating its national identity; championing the environment and sustainability; developing the education sector; boosting Emiratisation policies; and expanding economic partnerships across the globe.

It is a particularly important year for the environment. The Expo site, now known as Expo City Dubai, will host a major UN climate summit in November.

Heads of state from across the world will gather in Dubai for Cop28 and will try to find solutions for one of the world's most pressing problems, climate change.

Updated: January 04, 2023, 10:44 AM
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