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Sheikh Hamdan, a void difficult to fill
For 50 years he helmed the Financial Ministry in the UAE.
“It is a curious thing, the death of a loved one. We all know that our time in this world is limited, and that eventually all of us will end up underneath some sheet, never to wake up. And yet it is always a surprise when it happens to someone we know…” The lines of Lemony Snicket, the pen name of American novelist Daniel Handler, could not have rung truer.
The death of Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and the Minister of Finance and Industry of the UAE, on Wednesday has left in its wake fond memories and a void which may be difficult to fill.
Deeply affected is his brother, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, who shared the sad news on Twitter.
He said, “We belong to God and to Him we shall return ... May God have mercy on you, my brother, my support and my companion.”
For 50 years he helmed the Financial Ministry in the UAE. But he was extremely modest about giving credit for the nation’s spectacular economic growth to the leaders, particularly President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid. He said they were the main reason behind the UAE’s excellence in directing financial resources to achieve the highest quality of life for citizens and residents.
Sheikh Hamdan praised the vision and directives of the wise leadership in directing financial resources to achieve the highest quality of life and happiness for citizens and residents in the country, and to provide the highest levels of social care to deserving groups.
He passed away at the age of 75, after several months of illness.
His Highness Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, said, “Today we lost one of the loyal men of the Emirates after a life full of giving and sincere patriotic action... May God have mercy on my brother Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid, and may He reward him with the best reward for what he offered to his country and its people.. I console myself and my brother Mohammed Bin Rashid and the honourable Maktoum family... may God grant them patience and solace.”
Sheikh Hamdan was born on Dec.25, 1945. He was the second son of late Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum. In 1971, Sheikh Hamdan was appointed as the first Finance Minister of the UAE, a post he held until his death in 2021.
He led Emirati delegations to the International Monetary Fund and the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) Fund for International Development. Sheikh Hamdan controlled a wide array of conglomerates reaching across Dubai’s economy, such as the Dubai Ports Authority, Dubai World Trade Centre and Dubai Natural Gas Company Limited.
He was a titanic and influential figure in the world of horse racing. He was a great champion of Arabian racing, becoming patron of Arabian Racing Organisation in 1999. In December, the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) and the Arabian Racing Organisation announced steps to align the regulatory practices of Purebred Arabian racing with Thoroughbred racing.
He is the key figure behind the establishment of the Dubai International Arabian Races, Europe’s premier Arabian racing programme which has its finals day held at Newbury racecourse every year. He purchased Shadwell Estate near Thetford in Norfolk, in 1984.
Few know that he ordered the establishment of a new digital library at the International University of Africa in Khartoum. He even donated Dhs600,000 to students of the Higher Colleges of Technology a few years ago.
Mostly it is loss which teaches us about the worth of things. After Sheikh Hamdan’s death, German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer’s words appear to have a lasting effect.