The present Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, is committed to his father's dream of making Dubai one of the foremost cities in the world, as are his brothers, Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Deputy Ruler of Dubai; and Deputy Chairman of Dubai Police & Public Security Major General Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
The above-mentioned sheikhs and their late brother Sheikh Maktoum have honoured their father's memory by creating one of the world's most impressive cities. They have done this by following the Al Maktoum tradition of encouraging businesses to invest in and operate from Dubai by offering incentives and establishing free trade zones, and by making Dubai one of the world's premier tourist destinations.
|DUBAI MEDIA CITY|
Dubai has been quick to adapt to the introduction of e-commerce and the rapid technological development of recent years. The establishment of Dubai Internet City, in October 2000, and Dubai Media City, in January 2001, has ensured that the majority of the world's major business players have a presence in Dubai. Both these establishments offer their clients state-of-the-art infrastructure and many business incentives. Together with Dubai Knowledge Village they make up the Dubai Technology, E- Commerce and Media Free Zone, a central feature of the plans for Dubai's future. This free zone is also helping to introduce the next generation of leaders in the Al Maktoum family to their responsibilities; the chairman is Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed Al Maktoum, Sheikh Mohammed's third son.
Information technology has not only been incorporated into Dubai's trade and industry, but also into its education system and its government. The Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid IT Education Project ensures that the youth of Dubai, and the UAE as a whole, will be familiar with the latest technology when they leave school, and that there will, therefore, be qualified nationals ready to take up employment in the IT industry.
The e-government project is another vital part of the Al Maktoum family's plans for the future. The Dubai e-government portal opened in October 2001, giving Dubai the world's first fully online government. The people of Dubai can now use the Internet to renew and apply for all kinds of licences, pay fines, request information and much more.
Dubai has also moved into the world of international finance, with the opening, in February 2002, of the Dubai International Financial Centre, which Sheikh Mohammed announced would, "be a bridge for financial services between our region and the international markets 24 hours a day and 7 days a week." He added, "This centre will provide an ideal business environment based on a highly developed infrastructure and control regulations and laws that rival the latest and most competent regulations and laws worldwide."
It is hard to imagine any other city in the world having developed a tourism industry as vibrant as Dubai's in such a short time. Before 1990, Dubai International Airport was always busy, but the majority of passengers were in transit. Now, millions of them each year stay in Dubai for their holidays, and the airport is even busier. In 2001 the state-of-the-art Sheikh Rashid Terminal opened to cater for the increase in passengers.
The Maktoum brothers have introduced many initiatives to attract more visitors to Dubai, the most famous of which is the Dubai Shopping Festival - an annual month-long event during which the majority of Dubai's stores offer considerable discounts on their goods.
One of the most popular features of the Shopping Festival is the Global Village, where various countries take the opportunity to showcase their heritage through exhibitions of traditional handicrafts, clothing, food, music and dance. Each country has its own pavilion and, every evening throughout the Shopping Festival, crowds flock to the Village to enjoy this perfect example of Dubai's cosmopolitan nature.
|AN ARTIST'S IMPRESSION OF DUBAI FESTIVAL CITY|
In recent years, Dubai has also witnessed the development of some of the world's most well appointed and architecturally accomplished hotels. Emirates Towers, which opened in 2000, now overshadow the World Trade Centre on Sheikh Zayed Road, and, on a man-made island just off the shore of Jumeirah, the world's tallest hotel, the Burj Al Arab, stands. This building, built to resemble the sail of a traditional Arabian dhow, is the centrepiece of Dubai's tourism industry, offering the most luxurious accommodation imaginable.
Despite the recent success that Dubai has enjoyed in this area, the Maktoum brothers have shown that they share their father's trait of striving for continual improvement by stating their aim to increase the number of tourists visiting Dubai annually from three million to six million by the year 2010. Projects such as Dubai Festival City - a waterfront development that will combine entertainment, dining, shopping, a marina, hotels, offices and residential apartments - and The Palm - an ambitious plan to create three man-made islands in the shape of palm trees to increase Dubai's coastline - demonstrate their commitment to this goal.
|SOME OF THE PROJECTS INITIATED |
IN DUBAI IN THE NEW MILLENNIUM
As part of their drive to raise Dubai's international profile, the late Sheikh Maktoum, Sheikh Hamdan, Sheikh Mohammed and Sheikh Ahmed established Dubai as the sporting haven of the Middle East. Major international sporting events hosted in Dubai include the Dubai Tennis Open and the Dubai Desert Classic - a golf tournament - both of which attract leading international participants in their respective sports.
But Dubai's most famous sporting event is the richest horse race in the world, the Dubai World Cup. It was originally established as the centrepiece of the first Dubai Shopping Festival. It is now an event in its own right, capable of drawing an audience from all over the world. It combines Dubai's talent for hospitality with the passion for horse racing shared by all the Maktoum brothers, a passion clearly illustrated by their success with the family racing stable, Godolphin.
The discovery of oil certainly helped, but it is the Al Maktoum family's commitment and intelligent use of resources that has modernised Dubai. The tale of Dubai is a tale of the wisdom of its Rulers.
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