Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 5 August 2020

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid celebrates 71st birthday

The Vice President and Ruler of Dubai has played a leading role in the rapid rise of the Emirates in recent years

Congratulations are flooding in from across the UAE as Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid celebrates his 71st birthday on Wednesday.

The country’s Vice President and Ruler of Dubai became the nation’s first Minister of Defence in 1971 following the formation of the UAE.

Sheikh Mohammed later became Dubai’s ruler in 2006 after the death of his older brother, Sheikh Maktoum.

He has since continued the work of his father, Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, in transforming Dubai into a global tourist destination and business hub.

UAE residents took to social media to pay tribute to Sheikh Mohammed, with well-wishers lauding him as the "pride of the nation" and an "inspiration of generations" of Emiratis.

Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai, paid tribute to his father on Twitter.

The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation also heaped praise on Sheikh Mohammed in a birthday message posted on the social media platform.

"Today marks the birthday of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid which also coincides with the approaching launch of Hope Probe to Mars carrying with it the name of the Emirates and the ambition that his highness announced, that is we shall not accept any substitute for first place."

Sheikh Mohammed's path to leadership was shaped from an early age.

At the age of four he was privately tutored in Arabic and Islamic studies. He began formal education at the age of six and 11 years later, attended an English language school in Cambridge, where he boarded with a local family and was given £2 as a weekly spending allowance, worth the equivalent of about Dh165 today.

Sheikh Mohammed’s education took a military turn when he attended a cadet school, in Aldershot, that later became part of Sandhurst. There he would emerge as the top Commonwealth student before going to Italy to be trained as a pilot.

While a significant part of his development took place under the tutelage of academics and military officials overseas, sitting under the learning tree provided by his father in the Emirates proved vital.

As a young man, he had a front row seat to his father’s pro-business mentality that established Dubai as a commercial and trading centre after the collapse of the pearling industry and well before the discovery of oil.

These lessons, coupled with his extensive military training, served him well when he went on to become Minister of Defence and, decades later, Ruler of Dubai.

As a teenager, Sheikh Mohammed was on hand for a crucial chapter in the success story that would come to be the fledgling UAE.

In January 1968, at the age of 19, he accompanied his father to meet Sheikh Zayed in the desert between Dubai and Abu Dhabi to agree to forming a union between the Emirates.

Sheikh Mohammed's 71st birthday has been marked with a golden portrait crafted by Emirati artist, Abdulrauf Khalfan.

Updated: July 15, 2020 02:22 PM

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