The attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, began one of the most difficult periods in the history of the modern world.
Sheikh Mohammed issued a statement on September 27, setting out his position and reflecting that of much of the moderate Muslim world:
"With reference to the present US campaign against terrorism, there is no doubt that a huge crime has been committed against the United States. We condemned that crime and its perpetrators. We conveyed to the American administration our sympathies for the victims of the attacks and our support for the efforts aimed at combating terrorism within an international framework... The entire world is unanimous in fighting terrorism. We in the Arab and Islamic world are a part of this world, and we have a real interest in eradicating this hateful phenomenon...
If something contradictory to our religion's tolerance, cooperation and kindness has emerged in our contemporary history...the evil has been committed by the perpetrators and not the religion. We should never brand Islam and Muslims with such terrorist acts... Islam is a religion of justice, tolerance and world peace. In the West and in the US there are fair people who know true Muslims and the teachings of Islam, which call for peaceful coexistence between all religions and sects."
On the humanitarian front, Sheikh Mohammed was highly active through the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Charitable and Humanitarian Foundation. On October 3, the foundation opened an appeal to establish refugee camps both inside Afghanistan and over the border in Pakistan. Sheikh Mohammed donated $5 million from personal funds to the appeal and later gave more. He also donated $5 million to the World Trade Center Victims Appeal.
On October 27, Sheikh Mohammed's Godolphin team were in New York for the Breeders' Cup. Organisers had dedicated the Breeders' Cup to the families of New York firefighters, police officers, emergency services personnel and other victims in the surrounding communities who lost their lives as a result of the terrorist attacks. A goal of $1 million had been established.
The meeting was a tremendous success for Godolphin, who amassed around $2.5 million in prize money, all of which was donated to the appeal.
This presented a highly public display of friendship between two cultures and societies that were perhaps at a crossroads in their relationship. Sheikh Mohammed's gestures towards Afghans and Americans alike, and his conciliatory words, showed exemplary statesmanship.
Another crisis emerged with the horrific attacks on Palestine by the Israelis in 2002. Like his fellow leaders in the region, Sheikh Mohammed sought to press for peace, and aid the Palestinians. Sheikh Mohammed accompanied Sheikh Maktoum to Beirut for the Arab Summit. Both spoke in favour of a peace plan tabled by Saudi Arabia and have since pressed, through diplomatic channels, for the United States to force its ally, Israel, to back away from a military option and take a conciliatory stance.
From the foundations that Sheikh Mohammed and his family have laid at home- including such projects as Dubai Internet City, Dubai Media City and Dubai International Financial Centre - to the principles of modern development laid down in the federation of the United Arab Emirates, the road to progress has remained clear. Through leadership, vision and innovation, Sheikh Mohammed hopes to guide the people of Dubai, the United Arab Emirates and, indeed, the Middle East, toward a brighter future.
As Sheikh Mohammed himself stated: "A man has two choices, either to be a follower or to show initiative, and we greatly desire to be pioneers."
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