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  Middle East & Africa
Sheikh Maktoum Laid to Rest
Visionary Leader behind " Dubai Miracle"
By Min Byung-Il
Special Correspondent
A solemn funeral to bid farewell to Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the country's former Vice President and Prime Minister and the Ruler of Dubai, is under way in Dubai on Jan 5, 2006.

DUBAI — In a solemn funeral, the United Arab Emirates bade farewell to Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the country's former Vice President and Prime Minister and the Ruler of Dubai. He died on January 4 while on a private visit to Australia and was laid to rest on January 5 at Dubai's Umm Hurair cemetery.

President H.H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan performed funeral prayers for the soul of Sheikh Maktoum. Also taking part in the prayers were Their Highnesses the Supreme Council Members and Rulers of the Emirates, Crown Princes, Deputy Rulers and other sheikhs and officials, as well as heads of states and delegations from a number of other Arab and Islamic countries

The death of Sheikh Maktoum, who had been in office since 1990, was announced on January 4 by the UAE Ministry of Presidential Affairs. In a statement, it said that: "The UAE today lost a historic leader who contributed throughout his life to establishing the UAE and enhancing its structure and the welfare of its people."

HH President Sheikh Khalifa and other dignitaries walk through mourning crowd to join the state funderal.

It added that "The late Sheikh Maktoum was an example of the sincere national commitment. He placed his country's interest over any other considerations. He was a model of good behaviour.

The excellent record and legacy of the late Sheikh Maktoum in serving his country cannot be counted. His constructive role in establishing the UAE and enhancing its federal march and other areas of national activity will remain engraved in the memory of the nation and its people," the statement said.

A forty day period of official mourning was announced, during which flags will fly at half mast. Ministries and other government institutions and departments will remain closed for seven days starting from Jan. 4.

The role played by the late Sheikh Maktoum in the development of the United Arab Emirates has been widely acknowledged in messages of condolences sent to President H.H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and the Al Maktoum family by other leaders from throughout the Arab world and beyond.

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud said in a message that "It was a great shock to learn about the sad demise of Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum. The GCC countries and the Arab and Islamic nations have lost one of their prominent leaders while Dubai has lost the man who led its progress."

In another statement, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the Emir of Qatar, said: "It is with shock that we heard about the sad demise of Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum who dedicated his entire life in the service of his country. May Allah (SWT) grant him eternal peace in paradise."

In another message to President HH Sheikh Khalifa and to HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who succeeded his brother as Ruler of Dubai and was chosen Jan. 5 as the UAE's new Vice President and Prime Minister, Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika wrote: "Please accept my heartfelt condolences on this tragic loss," he said. "The Arab Nation has lost a noble, dedicated and resourceful leader," he added.

Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf also cabled President HH Sheikh Khalifa, saying:"It is with deep sadness and a sense of shock that we learned about the sudden and untimely passing away of H.H. Sheikh Maktoum Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and the Ruler of Dubai."

"On this sad occasion, on behalf of the government and people of Pakistan, I convey to Your Excellency and the brotherly people of UAE our most profound and sincere condolences. We will always cherish the memory of H.H. Sheikh Maktoum Bin Rashid Al Maktoum as a wise leader of UAE who dedicated himself to the service of his countrymen and follow Muslims in different parts of the world," he added.

Other messages of condolences came from Abdul Qadir Ba Jamal, Prime Minister of Yemen, from Paul Martin, the Prime Minister of Canada, and from Tony Blair, the British Prime Minister, while Britain's Queen Elizabeth II sent her cousin, HRH the Duke of Gloucester, to pay condolences to President HH Sheikh Khalifa and Vice President and Prime Minister HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid.

A statement issued in Tahran by the spokesman for Iran's Foreign Ministry, Hamid Reza Asefi, also expressed condolences to the UAE Government and people.

In an editorial, the Dubai-based Gulf News said that with the death of Sheikh Maktoum, the UAE had lost one of its founders. He was, it added, a unique leader whose vision contributed to the prosperity and development of a nation that has become a model of stability, progress and tolerance.

"History will also remember Sheikh Maktoum as the leader who oversaw the transformation of Dubai from a tiny city to a cosmopolitan emirate that has become an attractive destination for investors, tourists and highly skilled workers. Today, Dubai is a model of growth and cited as one of the most successful economic experiments of all time," noted the English language daily.

The paper went on to say that the manner in which the smooth transfer of power had taken place in Dubai would surely serve as reassurance to both citizens and residents of the emirate.

With the succession of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum as Ruler of Dubai, the emirate of Dubai can be reassured of continued growth and stability, both areas it has enjoyed in considerable measure since the formation of the United Arab Emirates," said the paper.

With Sheikh Mohammed now at the helm, it can be expected the tradition of the Maktoum family will be nobly carried forward with equal endeavour and vigour for the benefit of all those, of whatever nationality or creed, who decide to live and work in the emirate, it said.

Another English language publication, Khaleej Times, echoed the tribute. "Few countries in modern history," it noted, "have witnessed such breathtaking progress in such a short period of time," Sheikh Maktoum, it added, will always be remembered for his praiseworthy contributions in bringing about this progress. "But this long march to the future and excellence will continue. And this enduring legacy will be carried forward, for the UAE is the ultimate testament and tribute to its great and visionary leaders."


Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum was born in 1943 in the Shindagha neighbourhood, close to the entrance to Dubai Creek (Khor Dubai).

In his youth, he studied mathematics, English and Arabic and religious studies.

On 4th October 1958, his father, Sheikh Rashid assumed power as Ruler of Dubai in an official inauguration ceremony, the first of its kind to have taken place.

As a precursor of the prominent role he was to play in the future, Sheikh Maktoum was entrusted by Sheikh Rashid to deliver a speech on his behalf at the accession ceremony.
From then onwards, he was his father's right hand.

Due to the efforts made in the late 1950s and 1960s by both Sheikh Rashid and Sheikh Maktoum, a number of development projects in the growing emirate, such as Dubai International Airport, power generation plants, the first hotel in Dubai and schools and new housing quarters saw the light of day.

In the early 1960s, Sheikh Maktoum completed his studies locally before he was sent by his father for further education in one of the leading universities in Britain. There he mingled with students of various nationalities, many of them were the sons of world leaders and other politicians from around the world. The experience he gained proved to be of great benefit, particularly during the political events that took place in what were then known as the Trucial States in the latter part of the 1960s.

Records from the time show that Sheikh Maktoum used to accompany his father on a regular basis in the early 1960s to the meetings of the Trucial States Council, a body that brought together the Rulers of all of the Emirates.

In 1966, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan took office as Ruler of Abu Dhabi, and the Council then began seriously to discuss the idea of a future formation of a federation. Two years later, on 16 January 1968, Britain declared its intention to close its bases in the Arabian Gulf by the end of 1971 and the Rulers of of Abu Dhabi and Dubai opted to embark on practical measures to push forward the idea of federation. As a first step, six weeks of discussion took place between them to resolve all outstanding issues, prior to setting out the framework for the proposed federal state.

Sheikh Maktoum, then only 25, joined his father in talks with Sheikh Zayed and other senior officials. Over the six week period, he was able to promote a spirit of consensus with the Government of Abu Dhabi on many issues.

His efforts paid off when, on 18th February 1968, he and his father travelled to a desert point in Abu Dhabi emirate near the Dubai border to take part in one of the major events that preceded the declaration of the federation.

On 10th July 1971, both Sheikh Rashid and Sheikh Maktoum hosted in Dubai delegations from the other six Trucial Sheikhdoms to attend a Council meeting. Sheikh Maktoum's skill as a statesman played a major part in the formation, several months later, of the federation.

In a special ceremony held in Dubai on 2nd December 1971, the Rulers of the Emirates signed an accord establishing the State of the United Arab Emirates. Sheikh Zayed was elected as President and Sheikh Rashid as Vice President, while Sheikh Maktoum was appointed as Prime Minister, presiding over the first meeting of the UAE Cabinet on 2nd April 1972.

Sheikh Maktoum remained Prime Minister until 1979 when he stepped down for his father. In May 1981, Sheikh Rashid fell sick and the onus fell on his sons.

Although he recovered, Sheikh Rashid opted to take rest and hence to allow Sheikh Maktoum to be at the helm of the emirate.

Sheikh Maktoum has accorded considerable attention to all aspects of development, and to education and legislation in particular.He served in many capacities during the 1980s and won a wide reputation as a man deeply devoted to charitable activities. His generous hands have turned him into a legend not only in Dubai and the UAE but also in many parts of the Third World.

In November 1990, following the death of Sheikh Rashid, Sheikh Maktoum became UAE Vice President, Prime Minister, and Ruler of Dubai. His return to the premiership was associated with one of the most important development projects in UAE history, the adoption of a national programme for constructing thousands of residential units for low-income citizens in Sharjah, Ajman, Umm al-Qaiwain, Ra's al-Khaimah and Fujairah.

He also oversaw several development projects designed to upgrade the standards of living of citizens in all parts of the UAE, including the remotest areas.

Within Dubai, his shrewd leadership led to great achievements as shown in the many infrastructural and utility projects completed during the 1980s and 1990s.

The late Sheikh Maktoum accorded paramount attention to the career development of UAE citizens. "The future of the UAE largely depends on the success of the UAE government in realising the objectives for which the Union was created," he said in a statement in 1972.

Sheikh Maktoum is credited with introducing Arabs to the world of international equestrian competitions. He was the pioneer in introducing Arabs to international horse-racing and to the establishment of stables for the best breeds. He was the most successful horse owner in Europe in 1997.

Much credit is due to the late Sheikh Maktoum for the creation of "Godolphin," the equestrian team whose marvellous achievements have introduced revolutionary concepts to the sport. He was also the mastermind of the Dubai World Cup, an equestrian event that has acquired the world's attention with the quality of participating horses and its lucrative prizes.

He also led Godolphin to new challenges when he took them to compete in the US sand racetracks. Through his personal interest in horses, Sheikh Maktoum effectively helped to revive an age-old tradition.

The life of the late Sheikh Maktoum was outstanding in many respects.

From the moment he assumed the premiership of the first federal cabinet up until his untimely death, he worked relentlessly for consolidating the union. Following the death of his father, Sheikh Rashid, he successfully faced the formidable challenges and provided much support to the late Sheikh Zayed in building the Nation.

S.Korean Foreign Minister visits UAE Embassy in Seoul

South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon Friday extended condolences to the people of the UAE over the death of UAE Prime Minister Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid al Maktoum.
On behalf of the Korean government, I extend sincere condolences to the people of the UAE, Dubai and the al Maktoum family on the death of Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid al Maktoum," Minister Ban told Amb.Abdulla Mohammed Al-Ma'ainah when he visited UAE Embassy in Seoul.

"It is with great sorrow that we have received the sad news of the sudden and untimely passing of Sheikh Maktoum," Minister Ban said..
He went on to say that Korean people know how much he meant to the people of the United Arab Emirates as a visionary leader behind what is popularly known here as "Dubai Miracle."
Hundreds of Koreans and foreign expatriates residing in Korea have thus far visited UAE Embassy to express their condolences.
Among them were high ranking South Korean government officials, members of the Korean National Assembly and CEOs of Korea's leading business groups including Samsung and LG groups. Members of the foreign diplomatic corps in Seoul including chiefs of diplomatic missions from Arab countries also visited the UAE Embassy to express their condolence.
Minister Ban added that Sheikh Maktoum will be remembered in the hearts of Korean people as a man of vision and generosity.

Other Articles by Mr. Min Byung-Il
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Mr. Min Byung-Il serves as editorial director and senior writer for The Seoul Times. He was former managing editor and executive director of the Korea Herald. Min is also serving as correspondent for Emirates News Agency (WAM) of the United Arab Emirates and web editor for ArabAfrica.Net.






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