Meet the two brothers preparing to run Dubai

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Guests jostle to snap selfies with the beaming ruler-in-waiting flanked by dozens of native officers. The royal works the room with the ease of an Instagram superstar who’s used to mixing with superstars like footballer Cristiano Ronaldo.

A number of meters behind him, mixing into the crowd at an occasion in the Dubai Expo earlier this 12 months, stood one other man who could also be much less conspicuous in the metropolis’s social scene but whose impression is profitable reward from international buyers whereas preserving executives at government-run firms on their toes.

As their 73-year-old father, the ruler of Dubai, palms them extra duty, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum, 39, and brother Sheikh Maktoum, 38, have every carved out a distinct segment. They face the job of safeguarding Dubai’s standing as the Middle East’s pre-eminent business hub amid competitors from regional rivals and worldwide scrutiny following Russia’s struggle on Ukraine.

“Think of it as an organization,” stated Nasser Al-Shaikh, Dubai’s former finance chief, who helped steer the emirate by way of the 2009 debt disaster. “Hamdan is the chairman and Maktoum is the CEO. Hamdan is the face of Dubai and the crown prince, however choices on all points are made after session between the two brothers.”

Sheikh Hamdan, the charismatic crown prince and inheritor, is marketer-in-chief in a metropolis constructed on glitz and its skill to entice capital and thousands and thousands of vacationers. Sheikh Maktoum is proving key to Dubai as a monetary market this 12 months as he calls the photographs throughout the emirate’s sprawling state-run enterprises. He’s a part of a push to promote stakes to buyers — most not too long ago, highway toll operator Salik this month — and has often summoned company chiefs to discuss by way of their numbers.

Beyond monetary markets, Dubai is beneath strain to clamp down on unlawful money flows, whereas the power disaster might have supplied a lift to oil income in the United Arab Emirates however in the long term will speed up the international transfer away from fossil fuels.

The brothers — who have been born a 12 months aside to the similar mom —  additionally want to preserve the delicate stability of energy inside the UAE. That comes after Dubai’s management persuaded Abu Dhabi to refocus on business and the economic system and fewer on international coverage that led to navy engagements in conflicts stretching from Yemen to Libya and Turkey. Saudi Arabia, in the meantime, poses one other problem with its want to emulate Dubai as a magnet for international expertise and funding.

The two males hardly ever communicate to the media. The Dubai Media Office stated it was not potential to organize interviews inside the timeframe given and declined additional remark.

Sheikh Hamdan is nicknamed Fazza, Arabic for one who rushes to the support of others. He was appointed crown prince in 2008, bypassing an older brother Sheikh Rashid, who handed away in 2015 at the age of 33.

While his social media accounts are peppered with extra formal photos of presidency business, Sheikh Hamdan has additionally been featured skydiving, mountaineering, horse using or standing on high of the world’s tallest tower. He has 14.6 million Instagram followers — equal to greater than the inhabitants of the UAE — and mingles with individuals in Dubai’s malls and eating places, persevering with the picture of the approachable chief his father cultivated as he prepares for his future position.

Hamdan accompanies his father to most conferences with different rulers in the UAE’s sheikhdoms and chairs Dubai’s 22-member Executive Council, which incorporates his brother. The Council’s website says Hamdan “is characterised by his younger and dynamic persona” that has helped him construct connections with the Dubai inhabitants. He’s additionally chairman of the emirate’s sovereign wealth fund, the Investment Corporation of Dubai.

Maktoum, in the meantime, is described by the council as having “the traits of an formidable younger chief.” He shot into the highlight when he was appointed finance minister for the UAE in September 2021 after the dying of his uncle. Spearheading share gross sales of long-prized state-owned companies introduced him to the consideration of buyers. For years they’d referred to as for the itemizing of state-run firms to increase Dubai’s inventory market.

“Sheikh Maktoum is presently taking part in the position that’s set out for him, which is outlined and technical,” stated Sheikha Najla Al Qassimi, a senior researcher at Dubai Public Policy Research Centre, B’huth, who has additionally served as a UAE ambassador. “Sheikh Hamdan’s position as the crown prince is extra political. He’s well liked by locals and tribes whereas additionally in a position to join and attraction to Dubai’s giant expatriate neighborhood.”

This 12 months’s public listings are the begin of a flurry that’s set to see a complete of 10 state-owned companies supply shares to buyers. Sheikh Maktoum has helped push by way of the sale of stakes in the most important utility, Dubai Electricity and Water Authority, together with business park operator Tecom Group, elevating greater than $6 billion in whole.

Investors in September snapped up all the shares on supply in highway toll operator Salik, and Dubai elevated the sale’s size. The transaction, coordinated by Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Merrill Lynch amongst others, is designed to increase $1 billion.

“As the monetary hub of the area, Dubai’s markets aren’t totally reflecting that standing,” stated Mohamed Abu Basha, head of macroeconomic analysis at Egyptian funding financial institution EFG Hermes. “If you need to additional increase the Dubai story, you want to proceed this IPO push which I feel is lengthy overdue.”

Sheikh Maktoum has additionally zeroed in on company governance. As the head of the authorities’s auditing division, he retains a hawkish gaze on the finances of Dubai’s state-controlled entities, a few of which have been at the root of Dubai’s monetary troubles over a decade in the past. The focus is sensible — he’s one in every of the most important officers tasked with preserving tabs on the metropolis’s finances.

Since taking the helm at the Financial Audit Authority, the royal has ordered monetary probes into a number of state companies when suspecting potential corruption, individuals conversant in the matter say, declining to communicate on the file about confidential discussions. He retains official conferences brief, critical and to the level, they stated, in a area the place prolonged chit-chat over tea usually precedes getting down to business.

An govt at a Dubai-owned enterprise stated he was stunned when he obtained a name from Sheikh Maktoum’s workplace summoning him. As he arrived at the workplaces, he was ushered in just for Sheikh Maktoum to stroll in few moments later with a bottle of water in his hand. He instantly started going over some transactions, asking for particulars and causes.

Unsettled by the assembly, the govt nervously started reaching for his recordsdata earlier than being put comfortable by the sheikh, he stated, declining to be recognized by identify when speaking about a personal assembly. When he left, Sheikh Maktoum handed on his direct quantity.

Sheikh Maktoum, who additionally holds the roles of a deputy prime minister and deputy ruler of Dubai, is understood to request updates on particular tasks generally late at night time or on weekends, one banker stated.

“There’s been constructive change in UAE inventory exchanges since Sheikh Maktoum took over,” stated Tarek Fadlallah, head of Nomura Asset Management’s Middle East business. “It positively helps that he’s the son of Dubai’s ruler and that he’s from a technology that’s snug with fast change.”

Sheikh Maktoum’s intention is to guarantee Dubai’s meltdown of 2009, when it required a $20 billion bailout from Abu Dhabi, isn’t repeated. When Sheikh Maktoum was in his early 20s and Dubai teetered on the brink of default, he turned to Al-Shaikh, the finance chief at the time, for an in depth walk-through of the monetary scenario.

“He requested me to sit with him and run him by way of the numbers,” Al-Shaikh stated. “He needed to know the place precisely the stress factors have been and what induced them.”

Dubai now faces contemporary hurdles. Earlier this 12 months, the UAE was added to the Paris-based watchdog Financial Action Task Force’s so-called ‘grey record’, indicating the Gulf nation’s shortcomings in tackling illicit funds. Since then, the UAE has stated it will ramp up extradition pacts. UAE Ramps Up Extradition Pacts in Bid to Fight Dirty Money

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, worldwide scrutiny over how Dubai tackles illicit finance has elevated. Politically, the UAE has maintained ties with Russia. UAE officers have stated privately the nation will abide by worldwide sanctions.

Saudi Arabia’s opening up beneath millennial de facto chief Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, can be starting to lure international expertise that would possibly usually have ended up in Dubai.

The UAE has responded with efforts to make the nation extra engaging to international companies and encourage incomers to put down deeper roots. It decriminalised cohabitation of single {couples}, allowed expatriates to marry, divorce and use inheritance legal guidelines of their dwelling nations, and eliminated a requirement to have a license to eat alcohol. It’s additionally abolished the want for native companions to begin a business. It has initiated long-term visa schemes and selectively opened the door to granting UAE citizenship, a uncommon transfer in the Gulf area.

How Dubai navigates the subsequent chapter will come down to the dynamic between the two brothers as Sheikh Hamdan ultimately succeeds his father as the face of the metropolis, whereas Sheikh Maktoum cements his position as the numbers man.

When Sheikh Maktoum was first appointed, “there have been fairly low expectations,” stated Jim Krane, writer of the 2009 e-book City of Gold: Dubai and the Dream of Capitalism. “He was form of an unknown amount. But he’s rising so prominently by the pressure of his persona and his willingness to get entangled.”


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