Guests compete to take selfies with the radiant ruler, where dozens of local officials wait in line. The royal family moves rooms with ease, like Instagram celebrities who are accustomed to interacting with superstars like soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo.
A few meters behind him stood another man who had blended into the crowd at the Dubai Expo event earlier this year. The man may be a low profile on Dubai’s social scene, but his clout has been admired by foreign investors and his executives are under government control. A company on its toes.
Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum, 39, and brother Sheikh Maktoum, 38, have each carved out a niche as Dubai’s ruler’s 73-year-old father gave them more responsibility. They face the task of defending Dubai’s position as the Middle East’s preeminent business hub amid competition from regional rivals and international scrutiny following Russia’s war with Ukraine.
“Think of it as a company,” he said. Nasser Al Sheikh, former treasurer of Dubai, who helped steer the emirate through the 2009 debt crisis. “Hamdan is the chairman and Maktoum is the chief executive officer. Hamdan is the face of Dubai, he is the crown prince, but all matters are decided by the two brothers in consultation.”
The charismatic Crown Prince and heir, Sheikh Hamdan, is the marketer-in-chief of a city built on capital and its pomp and ability to attract millions of tourists. Sheikh Maktoum commands the emirate’s sprawling state enterprises across the board and holds the key to Dubai as a financial market this year. He has been part of an effort to sell shares to investors, most recently to road toll operator Salik earlier this month, and has occasionally called company executives on the numbers. are discussing
Beyond financial markets, Dubai is under pressure to crack down on illicit financial flows. On the other hand, while the energy crisis may have boosted UAE oil revenues, it will accelerate the global move away from fossil fuels in the long term.
Siblings born a year apart from the same mother also have to maintain a delicate balance of power within the UAE. This comes after Dubai’s leadership persuaded Abu Dhabi to refocus on business and the economy over foreign policy leading to military involvement in conflicts ranging from Yemen to Libya to Turkey. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia, which wants to emulate Dubai as a magnet for foreign talent and investment, poses another challenge.
The two men rarely speak to the media. The Dubai Media Office said it was not possible to arrange an interview within the given timeframe and declined further comment.
Nickname for Sheikh Hamdan Fazza, Arabic for those who rush to help others. He was appointed crown prince in 2008, bypassing his older brother Sheikh Rashid, who died in 2015 at the age of 33.
While his social media accounts are littered with more formal photos of government business, Sheikh Hamdan has also been known to skydive, climb, horseback ride, or stand on top of the world’s tallest tower. It’s taken up. He has 14.6 million of his Instagram followers, which is his UAE population. He interacts with people in Dubai shopping his malls and restaurants, inheriting the approachable leader image his father cultivated in preparation for his future role.
Hamdan accompanies his father to most of his meetings with other rulers of the United Arab Emirates and chairs Dubai’s 22-member Executive Council, which includes his brother. According to the council’s website, Hamdan is “characterized by a young and dynamic personality” which has helped him build connections with the people of Dubai. He is also the chairman of the Emirates Sovereign Wealth his fund, Dubai Investment Corporation.
Maktoum, on the other hand, is described by the Council as having “the characteristics of an ambitious young leader”. He stepped into the spotlight when he was appointed as his UAE Finance Minister in September 2021 after the death of his uncle. He captured the attention of investors by spearheading the sale of stakes in a long-cherished state-owned company. For years they have been calling for the listing of state-owned companies to boost Dubai’s stock market.
“Sheikh Maktoum now has a distinct technical role,” said Sheikh Najra Al Qasimi, a senior fellow at the Dubai Public Policy Research Center in Buhs and former UAE ambassador. “Sheikh Hamdan’s role as Crown Prince is more political. increase.”
This year’s IPO marks the start of a riot with a total of 10 state-owned companies selling their shares to investors. Sheikh Maktoum has facilitated the sale of stakes in major utilities Dubai Power and Water Authority and business park operator Tecom Group, raising a total of more than $6 billion.
Investors took full stake in road toll operator Salik in September, expanding Dubai’s sale. The deal, coordinated by Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Merrill Lynch and others, aims to raise $1 billion.
Mohamed Abu Basha, head of macroeconomic research at Egyptian investment bank EFG Hermes, said: “Dubai’s market does not adequately reflect its status as the region’s financial hub.” If we want to, we need to continue pushing for this IPO, which I think has been long overdue.”
Sheikh Maktoum also focuses on corporate governance. As head of the government’s audit department, he continues to take a hawkish view of the finances of Dubai’s state-owned enterprises, some of which were at the root of Dubai’s financial troubles more than a decade ago. makes sense. He is one of the key officials tasked with overseeing the city’s finances.
Since taking command of the Financial Supervisory Service, the royal family has ordered financial investigations into several state-owned companies over suspected corruption, said a person familiar with the matter, who declined to speak on record about the confidential discussions. He refused. He kept official meetings short, serious and to the point, they said.
An executive at the Dubai-owned company said he was surprised when he received a call from Sheikh Maktoum’s office summoning him. I was guided until I brought it to walk. He immediately started looking into some deals, asking for details and reasons.
An executive uneasy about the meeting began nervously reaching for a file before reassuring the chief, he said, refusing to identify by name when talking about private meetings. , Sheikh Maktoum gave his direct number.
Sheikh Maktoum, who also holds the role of Deputy Prime Minister and Deputy Sheikh of Dubai, has been known to request updates on specific projects late at night or on weekends, one banker said.
Tarek Fadlallah, Head of Middle East Business at Nomura Asset Management, said: “It definitely helps that he’s the son of Dubai’s ruler, a generation accustomed to rapid change.”
Sheikh Maktoum’s aim is to prevent a repeat of the 2009 Dubai meltdown that required a $20 billion bailout from Abu Dhabi. When Sheikh Maktoum was in his early twenties and Dubai was on the brink of default, he asked Al Hesheikh, who was the finance chief at the time, for a detailed explanation of the financial situation. rice field.
“He asked me to sit down with him and look at the numbers. “He wanted to know where his stress points were and what caused them.”
Dubai now faces new hurdles. Earlier this year, the United Arab Emirates was added to the so-called “grey list” of the Financial Action Working Group, a Paris-based watchdog. This shows the Gulf states’ shortcomings in tackling illicit funds. Since then, the UAE has said it would strengthen its extradition agreement.
International scrutiny of how Dubai deals with illicit finance has increased since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Politically, the UAE maintains relations with Russia. UAE officials have privately said the country will comply with international sanctions.
Saudi Arabia’s opening up under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the de facto leader of the millennial generation, is starting to attract foreign talent that might normally end up in Dubai.
The United Arab Emirates has responded with efforts to make the country more attractive to foreign businesses and encourage income earners to put down deeper roots. It decriminalized cohabitation for unmarried couples, allowed foreign residents to use the marriage, divorce and inheritance laws of their home country, and removed the requirement to obtain a license to consume alcohol. It also eliminates the need for local partners to start businesses. It launched a long-term visa scheme, selectively opening the door to granting her UAE citizenship, a rare move in the Gulf region.
How Dubai navigates the next chapter will see Sheikh Hamdan finally succeed his father as the face of the city, with Sheikh Maktoum cementing his role as number man. So it comes down to the dynamics between the two brothers.
When Sheikh Maktoum was first appointed, “expectations were pretty low,” said Jim Crane, author of the 2009 book. The Golden City: Dubai and the Capitalist Dream“He was kind of an unknown amount. But he’s made very noticeable by his power of character and willingness to get involved.”