Sheikh Maktoum

Sheikh Maktoum

The achievements of the UAE in the past three decades are evidence of the abilities of the people who worked selflessly alongside the first UAE President, His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.







The achievements of the late Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, marked him as a leader who enjoyed a close bond with his people and shared their dreams.

Sheikh Maktoum ruled Dubai between November 1990 and January 2006.

Formative Years

His Highness Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum was born in 1943, at the large Al Maktoum family home in the Shindagha area of Dubai, which is close to the mouth of Dubai Creek. He was the first son of Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum. His early education consisted of private tuition in mathematics, English, Arabic and Islamic studies, to prepare him for the important role that awaited him.

On the 4th of October 1958 a ceremony to mark the formal accession of Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum as Ruler of Dubai was held. Sheikh Maktoum addressed the people of Dubai on behalf of his father, a clear sign of Sheikh Rashid's faith in his eldest son.


Throughout the late 1950s and the beginning of the 1960s, Sheikh Rashid and Sheikh Maktoum worked around the clock to realise the dream of developing the emirate. Their projects included Dubai Airport and the construction of Dubai's first hotel, numerous schools and modern residential districts.

During the early 1960s, Sheikh Maktoum completed his domestic schooling and his father sent him to pursue his education at one of Britain's leading universities. There, he mixed with boys from different nationalities, many the children of world leaders and politicians.

His role in establishing the UAE

British records show that, from the early sixties, Sheikh Maktoum regularly accompanied his father to meetings of the Trucial States Council, a body comprising the Rulers of all seven sheikhdoms.

In 1966, Sheikh Zayed became leader of Abu Dhabi; and began to enter into serious negotiations as to the long-term future of the Trucial States.


On 16th of January 1968, Britain announced that by 1971 it would withdraw completely from the Gulf, so the governments of Dubai and Abu Dhabi decided to press ahead with the proposed union. Over the six weeks following Britain's announcement, the two sheikhdoms worked on solving outstanding issues between them to reach the basis of the union. This was a time in which Sheikh Rashid relied heavily on his eldest son. The 25-year-old Sheikh Maktoum became one of the leading political figures on the Trucial Coast, travelling repeatedly to Abu Dhabi for consultations with Sheikh Zayed and senior officials of his government.

The fact that so much was achieved in just six weeks stands as testimony to the abilities of Sheikh Maktoum. On February 18, 1968, he travelled with his father to a desert site on the Abu Dhabi- Dubai border to witness one of the most remarkable events in the history of the coast, the signing of the union accord between Sheikh Zayed and Sheikh Rashid. This accord formed the nucleus of the future federation.

On July 10, 1971, Sheikh Rashid and Sheikh Maktoum received delegations from the six other sheikhdoms at the Trucial States Council. The mediation role Sheikh Maktoum played was, without doubt, a significant factor in the development of the federation.

On December 2, 1971, the UAE was formally established. The federation process had seen Sheikh Maktoum emerge as a leader of high standing, and this was reflected by subsequent events.

First UAE Prime Minister

His Highness Sheikh Zayed was elected President of the UAE, with Sheikh Rashid as Vice-President. Sheikh Maktoum was appointed the first Prime Minister of the UAE and given the task of forming the fledgling state's first cabinet. On April 2, 1972 Sheikh Maktoum chaired the first meeting of the UAE Cabinet.

Sheikh Maktoum remained as Prime Minister until 1979, when he stood down in favour of his father. Four years later, Sheikh Maktoum returned to the cabinet as Deputy Prime Minister.

The 1980s

In May 1981, Sheikh Rashid fell ill and the onus fell firmly on his four sons. Although he recovered, he still needed much rest, leaving the practical management of day-to-day affairs to Sheikh Maktoum, who was ably supported by his brothers, Sheikh Hamdan and Sheikh Mohammed. The three brothers formed an effective leadership team that has maintained and expanded their father's legacy.

Sheikh Maktoum worked hard to develop Dubai, and paid particular attention to the promotion of law and order, and education.

Throughout the 1980s, Sheikh Maktoum assumed greater responsibilities. He also gained a reputation as a philanthropist. His generosity was legendary in the UAE. He funded a number of humanitarian projects such as a handicapped centre; orphanages in Third World and developing countries; and the construction of schools inside and outside the UAE.

UAE Vice President

Following the death of Sheikh Rashid in October 1990, Sheikh Maktoum became Ruler of Dubai and Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, positions he held until he passed away in January 2006.


Sheikh Maktoum's return as Prime Minister coincided with one of the most astonishing bursts of national development in the thirty-year history of the UAE. With an eye on less affluent citizens, Sheikh Maktoum spearheaded a programme to construct thousands of new homes in projects throughout Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Qaiwain, Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah. He and his brothers were also responsible for transforming Dubai into one of the most impressive cities in the world.


Between 1990 and 2006, Sheikh Maktoum's leadership led to nationwide development that has transformed lives.

In Dubai his leadership has resulted in major infrastructure projects, including internationally renowned sporting facilities, an impressive road network, modern parks and gardens, and public libraries. Dubai International Airport has also been expanded and improved to reflect the emirate's status as the regional aviation hub.

Horse Racing


Sheikh Maktoum must get much of the credit for introducing Arabs to international horse racing. He and his brothers ran the highly successful Godolphin stables and Sheikh Maktoum was the most successful horse owner in Europe in 1997. He played a major role in raising the standard of international racing.