Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the deputy ruler of Dubai and the finance minister of the United Arab Emirates, has died. He had been in poor health for a number of months. Last autumn, he flew overseas for an unspecified operation, and in recent weeks his brother Sheikh Mohammed has tweeted prayers for his recovery.
Born on 25 December 1945, the second son of late ruler Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum grew up in what was known as the Trucial States, a collection of Arab sheikhdoms along the southern shore of the Arabian Gulf which were part of a British protectorate. When the UAE formed its first cabinet in 1971, Sheikh Hamdan became finance minister and held the post until his death, attracting foreign investment, managing the country’s oil wealth, and, with his brother, overseeing Dubai’s transformation into a regional financial hub.
Sheikh Hamdan controlled a broad array of conglomerates reaching across Dubai’s economy, including the Dubai Ports Authority, Dubai World Trade Centre and Dubai Natural Gas Company.
Similar to his brother, he became a big name in horse racing, founding Shadwell Racing in Norfolk, England, in 1981, which has a legacy of producing brilliant thoroughbreds. He was also a significant investor in the sport overseas through bloodstock and sponsorship. In the UK, thousands of horses ran in his blue and white silks, including Derby winners Nashwan and Erhaab under Willie Carson. Top sprinter Battaash last year helped him become flat racing’s champion owner in Britain for the sixth time.
He was known throughout racing simply as Sheikh Hamdan, with major breeding bases that included the Shadwell Stud in England, the Derrinstown Stud in the Republic of Ireland, and the Shadwell Farm in the United States.
“Today we lost one of the most loyal men of the UAE after a life full of giving and sincere patriotism,” wrote Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. At the same time, Sheikh Mohammed posted a tribute on Twitter, in which he said: “May God have mercy on you, my brother, my support and my companion.”
Ten days of mourning have been announced in Dubai.