The passing away of Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who has served the nation for nearly five decades as the Minister of Finance and Industry and also Deputy Ruler of Dubai, is an irreparable loss for the UAE, and Dubai in particular.
As the longest-serving Minister in the UAE Cabinet, the late leader will also be remembered as the world’s longest-serving Minister of Finance. During five decades of uninterrupted service in such a key position, Sheikh Hamdan, the second son of Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, first Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE, and former Ruler of Dubai, has played a pivotal role in shaping the economic and industrial policies of the nation ever since its formation in 1971.
His younger brother, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, has said, “my brother was a great companion and a support” through his varied roles.
Appointed as Deputy Ruler of Dubai on January 4, 1995, Sheikh Hamdan made his mark with his exemplary pragmatism, perspicacity and visionary leadership. As a great pillar of strength and fount for wisdom, he had played a major role in transforming Dubai into one of the world’s most vibrant and advanced global hubs for trade and industry.
His priceless contributions in shaping the economic and industrial policies were critical in transforming Dubai as one of the most investor-friendly places on the planet as well as a nerve-centre for global trade, industry, travel and exhibitions and conferences.
Sheikh Hamdan had also played a vital role in the advancement of the UAE, the Arab world’s second-largest economy, as a regional industrial powerhouse in 50 years.
He will be remembered as a driving force behind some of the bold and pioneering economic and social reforms that helped catapult the UAE to the ranks of the world’s most modern and industrially advanced nations. Thanks to his invaluable and inspirational guidance and leadership, the UAE has been able to consistently enhance its global ranking on several fronts, including financial stability, competitiveness and financial strength.
Sheikh Hamdan presided over several high-level government entities that play a vital role in supporting the economy and labour market in the UAE.
These included Dubai Municipality, Al Maktoum Foundation, Dubai Aluminum and Dubai Natural Gas Company Limited, Dubai World Trade Centre and others. He was the president of the governing board of the Dubai Ports Authority and was also the UAE’s chief representative at the International Monetary Fund, and the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries Fund.
The departed leader also made his mark in the equestrian racing field. Introduced to thorough-bred flat racing while a student in the United Kingdom (UK). Sheikh Hamdan had established his first racing stable there in 1981. Over the years he has invested heavily in both racing and breeding and has acquired major operations in the UK, Ireland and the United States of America (USA). The Dubai Arabian Horse Championship is held under his patronage.
In his role as a great humanitarian, Sheikh Hamdan was the benefactor and the patron of the “Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum Award for Medical Excellence,” an award instituted to reward excellence in the field of medical sciences with its comprehensive, dynamic and exciting features to benefit competing researchers, scientists and medical institutions. He had funded many scholarships for students from around the world at Al Maktoum Institute.
Under his wise and visionary leadership, the UAE’s Ministry of Finance achieved some distinguished results in global indexes over the course of the past decade.
The UAE economy has grown exponentially from Dh6.5 billion (b) in 1971 to Dh1.54 trillion (t), while per capita gross domestic product (GDP) has grown from less than Dh10,000 to over Dh40,000.
The numerous accolades Sheikh Hamdan received include an honour in recognition of his role and the ministry’s efforts in providing data related to aids and grants through international development institutions and the Deauville partnership.