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UAE - Historical Background Of Al Maktoum Family

The history of Dubai and the other emirates, like in the case of Abu Dhabi, reflects that of their ruling families. These two families' emirates originated from the Bani Yas tribal confederation of Arabia. The Maktoums of Dubai are part of the Bu Falasa, a branch of the Bani Yas like the Bu Falah which moved to Abu Dhabi. The Bu Falasa tribe settled in Dubai during the 18th century. In 1833 the tribe turned the emirate into an independent political entity, of Al Bu Falasa, under the leadership of Maktoum Bin Buti Bin Suhail. This became the bone of contention between the rulers of Abu Dhabi and Sharjah, but on the whole it preserved its internal independence, especially when the Trucial Coast passed under British protection towards the end of the 19th century. Family violence among the Bu Falasa and resultant intra-clan wars occurred upon the death of Maktoum Bin Buti in 1852. His younger brother, Shaikh Said Bin Buti, took over as the second ruler of Dubai. While Maktoum's son Hasher was judged to be too young to succeed his father, Shaikh Said claimed that the line of succession should pass among brothers. Shaikh Said was killed and was succeeded by Maktoum's son Hasher seven years later, in 1859. Violent power struggles persisted during Hasher's reign. When he died, in 1886, the rulership was taken forcibly by his younger brother Rashid Bin Maktoum. Hasher's sons Maktoum and Majid had to hide for fear of being assassinated by their uncle. Rashid Bin Maktoum is an important name to remember because, in the 1930s, his sons staged a violent revolt and attempted a coup to topple Shaikh Said, a grandson of Hasher and the grandfather of the currently ruling sons of late Shaikh Rashid. Their coup attempt was known as the revolt of the "Municipality Council" or the Deira movement. When Rashid Bin Maktoum died in 1894, the rulership was taken by his nephew - Maktoum Bin Shaer who was then strong enough to defeat his younger uncle

Suhail Bin Maktoum. But Suhail's son Buti launched a campaign against Maktoum Bin Hasher and his claim to the throne was backed by the sons of the late Rashid - Said, Buti, Suhail, Mana, Hasher and Maktoum. Maktoum Bin Hasher was killed (reportedly by poisoning) in 1906 and the rulership was taken by force by Buti Bin Suhail. However, Buti was defeated in the ensuing violence and, upon his death, in 1912, the rulership was taken by Said Bin Maktoum. Shaikh Said's weak personality encouraged the sons of the late Shaikh Rashid Bin Maktoum (ruler in 1886-1894) to stage a coup attempt in the 1930s. But Said's son, Rashid (the previous ruler) defeated them in a decisive battle in 1938 and became the "Regent of Dubai". Thus, the young Rashid gradually neutralised all those branches of the family which had claims to the throne. Rashid Bin Said became Dubai's 8th ruler in 1958, upon the death of his father. The Deira Movement: In his campaign against the "Bani Rashid" group, in 1934, young Rashid and his mother Hessa (or Hissa) sent word to the admiral of the British Navy, then stationed in the Gulf, and appealed to him to act as an arbiter in the dispute between his father and his cousins. British intervention, intended to insure stability in the country, saved the throne for the house of Shaikh Said, by arming young Rashid's group. That was in 1938. Later in 1938, Said's opponents made another attempt to snatch power by urging the Municipal Council of Dubai to control the expenditure of public money. Young Rashid, in league with tribal shaikhs unfriendly to his father's opponents, seized the opportunity of an incident occurring during a marriage ceremony in Deira and, under the guise of re-establishing order, opened fire. Thus, the "Bani Rashid" brothers Said, Buti and Hasher were killed. But shortly thereafter, a younger brother of the "Bani Rashid" group - Shaikh Mana Bin Rashid - resumed the clannish war and helped establish a new Municipal Council, to rival Said's own diwan (office). This council absorbed most of the revenues of the Said's diwan. Its power base was Deira, on the northern side of the emirate's creek, while the power base of Said's "Emiri Diwan" was Dubai, on the southern side. A few weeks later, young Rashid Bin Said, as "regent" of Dubai, led another armed insurrection against Mana's Municipal Council. In 1958, Rashid became the ruler of Dubai and renewed his armed attacks - mainly in sporadic skirmishes - against the Mana faction, or the so-called "Municipal Council gang". This was also known as the "Deira Movement", as opposed to Rashid's "Dubai Front". Eventually Rashid's forces defeated the "Municipal Council gang", who had to flee to Sharjah and Abu Dhabi. Part of the "Al Maktoum" clan settled in Al Ain, where they were engaged in business activities. This clan had the support of Shaikh Zayed, who was governor of the Al Ain when they arrived, while Shaikh Tahnoun backed Rashid's sons. Having suppressed his Mana-led opponents and then eliminated the old "Municipal Council", Shaikh Rashid set out to unify both sides of the creek - Dubai and Deira. To neutralise the "Bani Rashid" alliance with Shaikhs Shakhbut and Zayed in Al Ain, Rashid, in the late 1930s had married Shaikha Latifa Bint Hamdan, the daughter of a ruler of Abu Dhabi who had been assassinated by Shaikh Zayed's father, Shaikh Sultan Al Nahyan. In the 1960s, Shaikh Rashid boosted the role of Dubai as a regional trading centre, and married his daughter to the ruler of Qatar, Shaikh Ahmad Bin Ali Al Thani.

Qatar was then the second richest oil state on the Arab side of the Gulf, next to Kuwait. Allegedly, Shaikh Ahmad poured considerable capital into Dubai. Rashid then turned his emirate into a "family corporation", with his sons as "senior partners", and an elite of local merchant families as "junior partners" - including the Al Ghurairs, the Al Futtaims, the Al Naboodahs, the Galadaris, the Lootas, etc. Rashid's laissez-faire attitude helped Dubai become the busiest trading and entertainment centre on the Arab side of the Gulf before oil was discovered in 1966. In 1966, Shaikh Zayed became the ruler of Abu Dhabi and began moves towards establishing the UAE. Despite the creation of the UAE in December 1971, Shaikh Rashid continued to maintain Dubai's economic independence. Politically there was more co-operation, but only as long as the federal apparatus did not infringe on the sovereignty of Dubai. Subsequent proposals by Shaikh Zayed for a tight federation and a permanent constitution for the UAE were not well received in Dubai. By the mid-1970s a power struggle had developed between Shaikh Zayed and Shaikh Rashid over federal ideas. Matters came to a head in 1979, over a draft Permanent Constitution which the UAE National Council and the cabinet had jointly prepared for submission to the Supreme Council. The provisional constitution of December 1971 provided a transitional period of five years before it could be revised or replaced. In 1976, a slight revision was introduced to enable the federal authorities to establish a unified military command and united judiciary. Dubai had been opposed to all that. So in 1979 Shaikh Rashid and Shaikh Saqr of Ras Al Khaimah refused to attend a Supreme Council meeting on March 27, 1979. Zayed then put pressures on both. For almost six months, the deadlock between Abu Dhabi and each of Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah prevented the Supreme Council from resuming its meetings. The federal system seemed in jeopardy. Mediations by Saudi Arabia and Kuwait as well as the other UAE rulers provided the necessary rapport between Shaikhs Zayed and Rashid, who held private talks and reduced differences to two substantive issues: (a) the unification of the armed forces, which Shaikh Rashid resisted; and (b) the preservation of the provisional constitution until a permanent constitution was laid down and approved by the Supreme Council, which Rashid wanted. Time and again Shaikh Rashid and his supporters stated that the drive towards the union's progress should not be pushed too soon and too fast, in order to consolidate the federal system and overcome "obstacles which might impede the achievement of national goals". Although Shaikh Rashid was the vice president of the UAE, he and Shaikh Zayed had scarcely met alone, except when the seven rulers assembled in the Supreme Council. So when the two shaikhs finally met in private to discuss their differences in 1979, Zayed conceded that it was "indeed natural" for the ruler of a member-state to assert the state's own local rights. And in order to establish a balance in the relationship between federal and local rights, Zayed invited Rashid to take the UAE premiership. Rashid agreed and formed a new cabinet. He appointed two deputy prime ministers: (1) his son Shaikh Maktoum Bin Rashid, who upon his father's death in October 1990 became the ruler of Dubai and UAE vice president and premier (Shaikh Rashid was in coma for years); and (2) Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed, the nominal head of Zayed's "Bani Khalifa" cousins. As deputy premiers both Maktoum and Hamdan were not very active in federal affairs. Hamdan died in October 1989.

In August 1990, like everybody else in the region, Dubai was taken aback by the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. The seven UAE rulers closed their ranks and their union was cemented in the subsequent years. At an historic meeting on May 20, 1996, the Supreme Council approved a permanent constitution for the UAE.
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Publication:APS Review Gas Market Trends
Date:Jun 1, 1998
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