Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum — the grandfather of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai — used to wake up before the dawn prayer, walk to the water well and bring back water to the mosque so that people could perform ablution. Paying tribute to his grandfather in the opening chapter of his new book titled ‘Qissati’ (My Story), Sheikh Mohammed has detailed how Sheikh Saeed “ruled with mercy and love”.
Sheikh Mohammed shares some rare insights into his life in the book. In what he is calling his “incomplete biography”, Sheikh Mohammed has broken the book into 50 chapters, narrating 50 stories in his 50 years of serving the nation. With anecdotes and previously unknown stories, the book offers a fascinating insight into the experiences and philosophies that shaped the iconic leader’s vision.
Khaleej Times got a signed copy of the book from the Dubai Ruler and for the next 50 days, we will be featuring anecdotes from each of the 50 chapters. To begin the series, we have translated the first chapter of the book in full.
Chapter 1: From there we started and here we have arrived
The date is December 26, 2017. It’s 11am and I haven’t had my breakfast as I was busy launching a new project. I am used to launching many projects, yet this time, it is a different one. It will break barriers before us. I love breaking barriers for my people. We humans move because of inspirations and ambitions. Therefore, I was keen on launching the project in an inspiring manner.
We worked on the project for many years. I ensured that all international agreements were in place and that the team was prepared to launch experiments as soon as possible. I also made sure that the project carried the message I wanted to deliver: Nothing is impossible for the UAE.
I announced the project through social media to over 15 million followers of mine. We wanted to send four Emiratis to space. To complete the biggest Arabic and Islamic project of its kind that will, along with other projects, mark an integrated Emirati space system — Journey to Mars, Emirati astronauts, first city on earth that simulates Mars’ weather conditions, first integrated industrial park for manufacturing satellites, a space centre and a federal agency to regulate the sector.
Immediately after the launch, I saw a few reactions on social media, especially from the youth. They were feeling proud and happy. It was a happy surprise for everyone as we were celebrating our National Day. As I was reading the youth’s enthusiastic comments, I said: “This is a new destination we have reached, a new level we have topped and we will never stop.”
I don’t know what made me think about our simple, beautiful beginnings. The house of my grandfather Sheikh Saeed in Shindagha, the walls made of mud bricks interspersed with coral stones that allow the breeze through, the low ceiling rooms, the yard where we used to play in front of the house, my parents’ room, and the rooms of my brothers and sisters.
I remembered my grandfather Sheikh Saeed, his white beard and bright face, his goodness and great belief. I felt that he had worked towards this moment, too, and helped create it. He expanded trade prospects in Dubai, opened the door for everyone… the population doubled three times during his reign.
Yet, his greatest achievement was his reputation, his relationship with the people. He loved them and they loved him.
It is said that he used to wake up before the dawn prayer, walk to the water well far away and bring water back to the mosque so that people could perform ablution. What a person you were, grandfather, what power and goodness and mercy you had!
My grandfather ruled with mercy and love. Mercy and love cannot be forgotten, and days cannot erase them.
I recall his last day. I was almost 9 years old. He passed away moments after the dawn prayer. My father was besides him.
I remember the grief of the women, men crying, the flags at half mast, and the large crowds who bid farewell at his final resting place.
You taught us how to serve the people, Bou Rashid!