An Introduction to Dubai’s Royal Family

His Royal Highness, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum of Dubai
His Royal Highness, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum of Dubai | © Gobierno de Chile/Flickr
Jessica Harn

The Al Maktoum family, the royal and ruling family of Dubai, is led by His Royal Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, ruler of Dubai. Although he and his royal family remain hugely popular and loved by the residents of both Dubai and the UAE, many people outside of the country know little about this royal family besides the fact that they are extremely rich. How did they come to power and how are they so popular?

The Al Maktoum family are descendants of the Bani Yas tribe of the area of what is now the UAE, who were the most powerful and strategic of the familial tribes of ancient Arabia. In 1833, around 800 members of the Al Maktoum family branched away from the main Bani Yas family and took over the Emirate or region of Dubai, establishing themselves as the ruling family of this area. Without any opposition, the Al Maktoum family has ruled Dubai ever since and has now established themselves as the royal family with the titles of Sheikh, roughly translating as “king” in this case. The Sheikh of Dubai now also serves as the Vice President of the UAE, while also serving as the de facto Prime Minister and Defense Minister.

The Ruler of Dubai, dressed in yellow, at a horse racing event in Dubai

The current ruler of Dubai, His Royal Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, was born in 1949 and took over as ruler of Dubai after the death of his older brother in 2006. This makes him the 13th official Sheikh of the Emirate of Dubai. Remaining highly popular among residents and locals alike, he has managed to build Dubai into the world recognized superpower it is today, while also investing in infrastructure, schools, charities and international events to bring even more expats and immigrants to Dubai. His family is also highly popular, mostly thanks in part to his dashing (and single) oldest son, Crown Prince Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum, known lovingly as Fazza by his fans, which is the name he uses on his Instagram account and when he publishes his popular love poetry to the public.

The ruling family of Dubai remains ever popular thanks to their unusual method of keeping a personal connection with the residents of the city through social media and by regularly showing up to events and restaurants. They are even seen walking in public or driving around downtown Dubai. Although extremely wealthy, they manage to remain humble in the eyes of their subjects and are devoted to public issues in both Dubai and in the UAE. With the growth of the city and of social media, many remained glued to the royal family to see what new era both the current Sheikh and his young son Prince Hamdan will bring to the unique city of Dubai, and to the world.

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