x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Sheikh Mohammed takes politics to the people

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid's appointment as Prime Minister and his development of Dubai has inspired many Emiratis.

DUBAI // He is the ruler of one of the most dynamic emirates, the architect of one of most successful development efforts in the Middle East and a key figure internationally.

But as the UAE celebrates the sixth anniversary of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid's accession as ruler of Dubai, many are also lauding his role as Prime Minister and Vice President.

"He has been very active in increasing the role of the federal Government across all emirates," said Ahmad Obaid Al Mansoori, a Federal National Council member for Dubai. "As a leader, he's very close to the people and very supportive at all levels."

Sheikh Mohammed's visits across the country played an important role, he said.

Mr Al Mansoori added that this also took the form of using social media to connect with citizens.

"He is a role model for all of us," he said.

Sultan Al Qassemi, a non-resident fellow at the Dubai School of Government, said: "He has endeared himself to the people of the Northern Emirates. Every few months he goes on a tour, visiting schools, hospitals, infrastructure projects. Emiratis are very sentimental people, they like to see their leaders come to visit them. Sheikh Mohammed has not let them down.

"His position as Prime Minister is the most important position.

"People saw how he built Dubai when he was the Crown Prince. So when he became Prime Minister there was a lot of hope and a lot of expectations.

"To a degree, the financial crisis has dampened expectations somewhat because people understand that there are budgetary constraints. But he still carries a lot of goodwill from Emiratis because they saw how Dubai was built under his watch."

Sheikh Mohammed's role as a Prime Minister has also meant that he has helped to represent the country internationally. His friendship with the British royal family, often on display at events like Royal Ascot, is also well known.

Guy Warrington, the British Consul General in Dubai, said that Sheikh Mohammed has played "a critical role in world affairs".

"The United Kingdom is particularly proud of the strong relationship between our two ruling families underpinned by a shared love of horse racing," Mr Warrington said. "I look forward to seeing this relationship continue to prosper, built on mutual understanding and respect and a shared sense of values."

mcroucher@thenational.ae