The Heritage & Culture of Dubai

Power and Politics

(Taken largely from Lonely Planet's 'Best of Dubai' our favourite Dubai guide)

The Al-Maktoum Dynasty

At the foundation of the federation of the UAE in 1971, the ruler of Dubai was Sheikh Rashid who also became vice president of the UAE.

Sheikh Rashid died in 1990 after a long illness and was succeeded by the eldest of his four sons, Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid al-Maktoum, who had been regent for his father during his illness and who was instrumental in overseeing the massive development of Dubai.

Since Sheikh Maktoum’s death in 2006, his brother Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum has been the highly respected ruler of Dubai as well as being vice president and prime minister of the UAE.

Sheikh Mohammed was born the third of four brothers in 1949. He is widely credited with being behind Dubai’s rapid growth and success having recognised that Dubai’s oil reserves (which were never a large part of Dubai’s Gross National Product) were running out. Under his guidance and that of his brother, the former ruler Sheikh Maktoum, Dubai’s wealth has been used to transform the emirate into a major centre for business, tourism and sport.

Sheikh Mohammed’s son, born in 1982, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum was appointed Hereditary Crown Prince of Dubai in February 2008. He is a graduate of Sandhurst (the UK's leading military academy) and later attended the London School of Economics.

Sheikh Mohammed’s older brother Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum is Deputy Ruler of Dubai and federal minister of finance and industry.

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Government & Politics

Power in Dubai rests with the ruling Al-Maktoum family. Though the UAE has a federal government, each of the rulers (emirs) is absolutely sovereign within his own emirate.

The Supreme Council is the UAE’s national forum and the highest legislative body in the country. It is made up of the seven emirs (rulers) and elects one of the emirs to a five-year term as the country’s president. In practice, however, this role has been filled unchallenged by the emir of Abu Dhabi. After the much mourned passing of the nation’s founder Sheikh Zayed, in 2004, the presidency went to his son, Sheikh Khalifa, without incident.

There is also a UAE cabinet and the posts within it are also distributed among the emirates.

For a sightseeing plan of campaign that helps you see the best of Dubai have a look at Don’t Miss in Dubai and Best Views of Dubai.

The Dubai Municipality is effectively therefore the local government for the Emirate of Dubai and handles everything from economic planning to rubbish collection. There are no political parties or general elections in Dubai.

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To learn a little more about how Dubai and the UAE came into being and it's development in the 19th and 20th centuries visit our page entitled a Brief History of Dubai.

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