This billboard, directly across the street from my hotel, depicts Dubai's ruler against a backdrop of the modern city he and his family have helped create.
In addition to his role as Ruler of Dubai, he is the Prime Minister and Vice President of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Wikipedia has this to say about Sheikh Mohammed's personal life:
"He is the third of Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum's four sons (members of Dubai's ruling family Al Maktoum and descendants of the House of Al-Falasi, of which he is the tribal leader)."
"From the age of four, Sheikh Mohammed was privately tutored in Arabic and Islamic Studies. In 1955, he began his formal education at Al Ahmedia School. At the age of 10, he moved to Al Shaab School, and two years later, he went to Dubai Secondary School. In 1966, he and his cousin, Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al-Maktoum, attended the Bell Educational Trust's English Language School in the United Kingdom."
"His senior wife is Sheikha Hind bint Maktoum bin Juma Al Maktoum whom he married in 1979."
"His best-known junior wife is HRH Princess Haya bint Al Hussein, daughter of King Hussein of Jordan and half-sister of current King Abdullah II of Jordan, whom he married on April 10, 2004, and has one child, a daughter, AlJalila, born December 2, 2007. Sheikh Mohammed has 19 officially acknowledged children: eight sons and eleven daughters."
"Al Maktoum, his sons, and his daughters are known to be avid in the art of traditional Arabic poems, arts, taking part in projects to aid developing countries such as Jordan, Egypt, the Palestinian Authority and Yemen. They are also sport enthusiasts, especially in horse and camel racing."
"For example, in the 15th Asian Games in 2006, son Rashid took the individual gold in Endurance, sons Rashid, Ahmed, Majid, and Hamdan took the team gold in Endurance; niece Latifa took a bronze in Show Jumping; and daughter Maitha led the UAE team in taekwondo."
"Sheikh Mohammed is a major figure in international thoroughbred horse racing and breeding. In late 1981, he purchased Gainsborough Stud at Woolton Hill, near Newbury, Berkshire, United Kingdom. He owns Ballysheehan Stud in County Tipperary, Ireland. He also owns Gainsborough Farms Inc in Versailles, Kentucky."
"His racing operations includes [sic] the ownership of Darley
Stables and he is the leading partner in his family's Godolphin
Stables. Sheikh Mohammed hosts the Dubai World Cup, the world's
richest series of horse races.
In the UK, his horses have won numerous important Group One races including several of the British Classic Races."
"His horses have also won the Irish Derby Stakes and the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe and in the United States the 2006 Preakness Stakes with Bernardini."
"He recently bought the Woodlands Stud empire, the largest in Australia, for $US 420 million."
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"Sheikh Mohammed has been accused of encouraging the abduction and enslavement of thousands of boys for use as jockeys in camel races."
"A class-action suit was filed in the United States in an effort to bring him to justice. However, in 2006, American lawyers representing the UAE raised a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, not on its substance but on the grounds that none of the involved parties resided in the U.S."
"In July 2007, judge Cecilia Altonaga accepted the motion and dismissed the suit."
"Since 2000, international equestrian athletes affiliated with UNICEF have worked to end the 'scourge of modern slavery in mounted sports,' by putting public and diplomatic pressure on Sheikh Mohammed and the UAE government."
"In 2005, a UNICEF-sponsored programme with the UAE government resulted in the repatriation of hundreds of children formerly enslaved as camel jockeys, and provided them with social services and compensation upon return to their home countries of Pakistan, Sudan, Mauritania, and Bangladesh."
"The UAE government set aside $2.7 million in initial funding in 2005 with an additional $9 million for the second phase, and to enforce compliance, adopted a law officially banning the practice with penalties of jail time and a $27,200 fine."
"UNICEF endorsed the UAE’s efforts and expressed the hopes that 'the UAE’s programme will serve as a model to other countries in the region, as a means of ending all forms of exploitation of children.' "
If you're interested in the Sheik's political and business careers and his charitable activities, go to en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mohammed_bin_Rashid_Al_Maktoum