HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai took to his official Twitter account over the weekend to announce his latest book, a memoir, entitled Qissati (“my story” in Arabic). The “incomplete biography”, as he calls it, offers rare insight into His Highnesses life, depicting 50 stories of his 50 outstanding years in service.
The ruler, who dedicated the book to his son HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum, shared some excerpts from the memoir over social media. In the book, Sheikh Mohammed tells of witnessing the 1971 signing of the Union, burying his grandfather, and negotiating with hijackers.
Below, five interesting things we learned about HH Sheikh Mohammed based on the excerpts shared online from Qissati.
His father taught him to survive and protect himself
“Before I turned 18, my father taught me how to live in the desert and how to deal with its animals, gazelles and wolves, its cold weather and its volatility. After I turned 18, he taught me how to live in the city with humans. How hard-hearted are humans! And how beautiful is the desert!”
He persuaded hijackers of Japan Airlines Flight 404 to not kill the passengers on board when it landed in Dubai in 1973
“I was at a military base when my phone rang and I was told that Japan Airlines … (Flight 404) … was hijacked. Osamu Maruoka (who led the terrorists) told me: ‘Do not change the subject, we have weapons … and we are going to kill all the passengers’. One of the hijackers said to me: ‘So you are an Arab, you must support the Palestinian crisis, it is your crisis.’ After three days negotiating with the hijacker, he felt exhausted. We have agreed to fuel the plane to [let him] go wherever he wanted but would not allow the hijackers to seek refuge in our country.”
When he was young, he would sometimes sleep in the stables with his horses
“You know the difference between first horse and first love? There is no difference. For me, they are the same. I loved horses since I was a child. How wouldn’t I, having been raised in an environment that adored horses? When I was young, in the middle of the night when my mother didn’t find me in my bed, she would look for me, and find me sleeping in the stables. I love my horse and love to be close to it. I understand it and she understands me. If I am not present, she asks about me. I talk to her and she talks to me.”
His pocket money was less than 10 AED a week
“In 1966, my father asked me to go to Britain to learn English. In August 1966, I reached Mrs Summers’ house. Within days, I became more acquainted with western culture. I liked the simple, humble ways of dealing with each other. I loved the kitchen-table conversations, where everyone respects the way of thinking of the other. I enjoyed the fresh mornings, the rain. I studied hard. My pocket money was two sterling pounds (9 AED) a week. It wasn’t always enough. I used to eat chicken only once a week. I skipped many lunches to pay for my train ticket, so I could see horse races, which I loved.”
He keeps unlikely items in his “man cave”
“Here’s what I learnt from my small cave filled with scorpions, snakes, fish bones and falcons: Learning from experience stays in your head for a lifetime.”