The status of Dubai’s business center is determined by two different factors


Guests jostle to take selfies with dozens of local officials as they wait from the ruler beside them. The royal class easily works the part as an Instagram celebrity who is used to mingling with superstars like soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo.

A few meters behind him, joining the crowd at an event at the Dubai Expo earlier this year, stood another man who is less visible on the city’s social scene but whose influence is gaining admiration from foreign investors and keeping executives under government control. Companies on their feet.

While their 73-year-old father, the ruler of Dubai, was given more responsibility, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum, 39, and brother Sheikh Maktoum, 38, each held a position. The task of maintaining Dubai’s status as the Middle East’s pre-eminent commercial center faces competition from regional rivals and international scrutiny following Russia’s war on Ukraine.

“Think of it as a company,” he said Nasser Al-SheikhIn the year Dubai’s former finance chief who helped steer the emirate through the 2009 debt crisis. “Hamdan is the chairman and Maktoum is the CEO. Hamdan is the face of Dubai and the prince, but decisions on all matters are made after consultation between the two brothers.

The charismatic crown prince and crown prince, Sheikh Hamdan, is a major market in a city built on glitz and its ability to attract capital and millions of tourists. Sheikh Maktoum is calling the shots on the emirate’s rampant state-owned enterprises this year, signaling a key to Dubai’s financial markets. It’s part of a push to sell stock to investors — most recently toll operator Salik this month — and has occasionally called corporate bosses to talk up their numbers.

In addition to financial markets, Dubai is under pressure to crack down on money laundering.

The brothers – who were born to the same mother a year apart – must also maintain the balance of power in the UAE. This comes after Dubai’s leadership pushed Abu Dhabi to focus on business and the economy and focus on foreign policy and military involvement in conflicts from Yemen to Libya and Turkey. Saudi Arabia, for its part, has created another challenge with its desire to position Dubai as a magnet for foreign talent and investment.

The two men rarely speak to the media. The Dubai Media Office declined to comment further, saying interviews could not be arranged within the given time frame.

Sheikh Hamdan is nicknamed. do it, Arabic for those who rush to help others. In the year He was crowned in 2008, succeeding his elder brother Sheikh Rashid, who passed away in 2015 at the age of 33.

His social media accounts are filled with regular pictures of the government’s work, with Sheikh Hamdan skydiving, mountain climbing, horseback riding or standing on the world’s tallest tower. He has 14.6 million Instagram followers – the equivalent of the population of the United Arab Emirates – and mingles with people in Dubai malls and restaurants, continuing the popular leader image his father cultivated as he prepares for his future role.

Hamdan accompanies his father to most meetings with other rulers in the UAE’s sheikhdoms and chairs the 22-member Dubai Executive Council, which includes his brother. The council’s website said Hamdan was “known for his youthful and dynamic personality” which helped him connect with the people of Dubai. He is also the chairman of Dubai Investment Corporation, the sovereign wealth fund of the Emirates.

Maktoum, on the other hand, was described by the council as having “qualities of a great young leader”. In the year He was in the spotlight when he was appointed as the UAE Finance Minister in September 2021 after his uncle’s death. Spearheading share sales of long-prized state-owned companies has kept investors focused. For years, state-run companies have called for a listing to boost Dubai’s stock market.

Sheikh Maktoum, a senior researcher at the Dubai Center for Public Policy Research, who served as the UAE ambassador, said: “Sheikh Maktoum is currently playing the role that has been set for him, which is definitional and technical.” “Sheikh Hamdan’s role as crown prince is more political. He is well-liked by locals and ethnic groups and can meet and impress Dubai’s large expat community.

This year’s public listings are set to see a total of 10 public companies offer shares to investors. Sheikh Maktoum also helped push stake sales in its main utility, the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority, with business park operator Tecom Group, raising a total of more than $6 billion.

In September, investors snapped up all the shares on offer in toll operator Salik, and Dubai increased the amount of the sale. The transaction, coordinated by Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Merrill Lynch, is intended to raise $1 billion.

“As the financial hub of the region, Dubai’s markets are not fully reflecting that,” said Mohamed Abu Basha, head of macroeconomic research at EFG Hermes, an Egyptian investment bank. “If you want to further the story of Dubai, you need to continue this IPO push. It’s long overdue.”

Sheikh Maktoum has zeroed in on corporate governance. As the head of the Government Audit Department, he closely monitors the finances of Dubai’s state-controlled entities, some of which were at the root of Dubai’s financial crisis a decade ago. His focus makes sense — he’s one of the top officials tasked with overseeing the city’s finances.

After taking charge of the Financial Audit Authority, the royal government has ordered financial audits of various government firms on suspicion of corruption, with people familiar with the matter declining to speak on the record about confidential discussions. They say he keeps official meetings short, serious and to the point, in the realm where extended chit-chat over tea often precedes getting down to business.

A Dubai Enterprise executive said he was surprised when he received a phone call from Sheikh Maktoum’s office. Upon reaching his office, Sheikh Maktoum was sent away minutes later with a bottle of water in his hand. He immediately started going through some transactions, asking for details and reasons.

He said the executive, who was unsettled by the meeting, began accessing the files in fear before being calmed down by the sheikh, speaking on condition of anonymity while talking about a private meeting. When he left, Sheikh Mektum forwarded his direct number.

Sheikh Maktoum, who has been appointed as deputy prime minister and deputy ruler of Dubai, is known to request updates on certain projects, sometimes late at night or at weekends, a banker said.

Tarek Fadlah, head of Middle East business at Nomura Asset Management, said: “There has been a positive change in the UAE stock exchange since Sheikh Maktoum took office.” “Being the son of the ruler of Dubai and coming from a generation comfortable with rapid change certainly helps.”

Sheikh Maktoum’s aim is to ensure that there is no repeat of the 2009 collapse of Dubai that required $20 billion from Abu Dhabi. When Sheikh Maktoum was in his early 20s and Dubai was on the brink of default, he turned to Al-Sheikh, then chief financial officer, for a detailed look at the financial situation.

“He asked me to sit with him and run him through the numbers,” Al-Sheikh said. He wanted to know where the stress points were and what happened.

Dubai now faces new obstacles. Earlier this year, the UAE was put on the so-called ‘grey list’ by the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force, highlighting the Gulf nation’s shortcomings in combating illicit funds. Since then, the UAE has strengthened extradition treaties, she said.

After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, international scrutiny of Dubai’s handling of illicit finance has increased. Politically, the UAE maintains close ties with Russia. UAE officials have said privately that the country is subject to international sanctions.

The inauguration of Saudi Arabia’s millennial leader, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has also begun to attract foreign talent that has traditionally ended up in Dubai.

The UAE has responded in an effort to make the country more attractive to foreign companies and encourage deep-rooted revenues. It outlawed cohabitation for unmarried couples, removed the requirement that non-citizens marry, divorce and use their country’s inheritance laws and hold a liquor license. Also, the desire to start business with domestic partners has been cancelled. It has opened the door to UAE citizenship by instigating long-term visa programs, an unusual move in the Gulf region.

How Dubai navigates its next chapter will come down to the dynamic between the two brothers as Sheikh Hamdan replaces his father as the face of the city, while Sheikh Maktoum reinforces his role as a man of numbers.

According to Jim Crane, author of the 2009 book, when Sheikh Maktoum was first appointed, “there were too many expectations.” The City of Gold: Dubai and the Capitalist Dream. “It was kind of unheard of. But he stands out because of the energy of his character and his willingness to get involved.”





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