Sheik Maktoum; World-Renowned Horseman

Associated Press
Thursday, January 5, 2006

Sheik Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum, 62, the emir of Dubai and one of the world's foremost owners and breeders of thoroughbred horses, died Dec. 4 in Australia.

Sheik Maktoum, also prime minister of the United Arab Emirates, was succeeded by his younger brother, Crown Prince Sheik Mohammed, the defense minister of the UAE, a federation of seven Gulf states.

Sheik Maktoum was visiting Australia for the prestigious Magic Millions yearling sales when he died at the exclusive Palazzo Versace hotel on Australia's Gold Coast, police said.

Authorities in Dubai would not give the cause of death. Australian police would say only that the emir did not die of suspicious causes. Australian media speculated he died of a heart attack, and al-Jazeera TV said he was believed to have a history of heart problems.

Sheik Maktoum owned hundreds of thoroughbreds and won some of the biggest races in the world.

Working with another brother, Sheik Hamdan, the Maktoum family put Dubai on the world racing map. The brothers founded Dubai- and British-based Godolphin Racing Inc., one of the world's most successful stables, and created the Dubai World Cup, the world's richest race with a $6 million purse.

Sheik Maktoum owned Gainsborough Stud Management -- with one farm in Kentucky, another in England and two in Ireland. Standing at stud at Gainsborough Stud at Newbury in southeast England are Elusive Quality and Quiet American, sires of Kentucky Derby winners Smarty Jones and Real Quiet.

Sheik Maktoum owned top-flight horses such as Breeders' Cup Turf winner Fantastic Light, English 2000 Guineas winner Shadeed and Irish Derby winner Shareef Dancer.

The Godolphin stable has won nearly every major race outside the United States, but the Maktoums have said their biggest goal is to win the Kentucky Derby.

Sheik Maktoum was born at home in Shindagha, near the mouth of Dubai Creek, and educated at a British university. He succeeded his father in 1990 as ruler of Dubai.

He tended to leave the day-to-day government of Dubai to his younger brother, but he took an active interest in foreign policy. He often represented the country abroad during the years when the former president, Sheik Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, was ailing.

When Sheik Zayed died in 2004, Sheik Maktoum became acting president for a few hours until the new leader, Sheik Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, was proclaimed president.


© 2006 The Washington Post Company