His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, is celebrating his 70th birthday today.

His passion and vision have transformed Dubai – a once small creek-side settlement where he was born – into a global city, now home to more than 200 nationalities. And his wise and visionary leadership has propelled the UAE into becoming a major participant on the global stage, spreading inspiring messages such as tolerance, giving and innovation.

As we celebrate his birthday today, let us look back at the life of the man and leader who has carried a great responsibility for his nation and people.

Sheikh Mohammed was born on July 15, 1949, at the Al Maktoum house in Al Shindagha. He is the third of Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum’s four sons.

His brothers are Sheikh Maktoum, Sheikh Hamdan and Sheikh Ahmed. His mother was Sheikha Latifa bint Hamdan Al Nahyan, daughter of Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, a former ruler of Abu Dhabi.

Sheikh Mohammed’s early lessons in governance may have been initiated by his grandfather, the late Sheikh Saeed – then Ruler of Dubai – who showered him with love and affection.

Sheikh Saeed used to hold his daily majlis on wooden benches near the entrance of their Shindagha home, according to the family history. These meetings were a good learning opportunity for Sheikh Mohammed, who was was often seen sitting beside him.

Sheikh Mohammed was privately tutored in Arabic and Islamic studies and started his formal education in 1955 at Al Ahmadiya School, a small primary school in Deira. He also learned hunting, falconry and horsemanship at an early age.

In August 1966, he flew to the UK to enrol in the Bell School of Languages in Cambridge. He also attended Mons Officer Cadet School-Aldershot (currently the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst) where he received the highest mark of any foreign and commonwealth officer cadet.

In 1968, Sheikh Mohammed returned to Dubai and Sheikh Rashid appointed him as the head of the Dubai Police and Public Security. It was his first public position.

Later, he was appointed as Minister of Defence and became the world’s youngest defence minister.

Sheikh Mohammed was present at a desert camp, where the late Sheikh Zayed – then Ruler of Abu Dhabi – and Sheikh Rashid – then Ruler of Dubai – met to discuss forming a federation between Abu Dhabi and Dubai, which led to the foundation of the UAE.

Fast forward to January 3, 1995, Sheikh Maktoum, then Ruler of Dubai, signed a decree appointing Sheikh Mohammed as Crown Prince of Dubai.

Sheikh Mohammed laid out many infrastructure projects for the new digital economy and launched the eGovernment initiative. Expectedly, Dubai and the UAE rapidly evolved, leaving the world in awe of its transformation.

Man of letters

But Sheikh Mohammed is not only known as a leader.

He is also a well-loved man of letters. He is widely acknowledged as one of the finest exponents of Nabati poetry or verses featuring life in the Arabian Peninsula.

Early this year, Sheikh Mohammed released his latest book titled Qissati, narrating 50 stories in his 50 years of serving the nation.

The true strength and influence of Sheikh Mohammed lies in his humanity – and the true test of his leadership shall be reflected in the next generations. Happy birthday, Sheikh Mohammed.


Content Courtsey : khaleejtimes.com

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