Skift Take

Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum already runs Dubai's Emirates Airline. He'll now oversee two of its biggest development organizations too.

Two of Dubai’s most prominent real estate developers are being merged and rolled into the personal portfolio of the emirate’s ruler.

Nakheel – builder of the Palm Jumeirah island – and Meydan are now under the umbrella of Dubai Holding, with their boards abolished and Emirates Group chairman Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum put in charge.

The announcement came from the state newswire WAM as a decree from the royal family. Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum said he is “forming a global economic entity with a diverse portfolio in sectors such as technology, media, hospitality, real estate, retail, and more.”

The combined Nakheel and Meydan super-developer doesn’t have a name yet, but it will focus on real estate, tourism, hospitality, leisure and entertainment, and investments.

Sheikh Ahmed already acts as chairman of Dubai Holding, chairman of Dubai World, and chairman of Emirates Airline and Group.

How Are Meydan and Nakheel Involved in Tourism?

Both Meydan and Nakheel are major developers in Dubai, with Nakheel in particular being responsible for some of the city’s most ambitious projects. Nakheel is best known for having built the artificial Palm Jumeirah island, home to the two Atlantis resorts, waterparks, luxury homes, a mall, and a string of five-star hotels.

Nakheel also built The World Islands in Dubai. It is redeveloping Palm Jebel Ali and Dubai Islands, two other artificial islands launched alongside Palm Jumeirah that were halted by the 2008 financial crisis.

The company’s hotel portfolio includes a St. Regis hotel on Palm Jumeirah, the Bab al Shams Desert Resort operated by Kerzner, and the all-inclusive Riu resort on Dubai Islands.

Alongside real estate, Meydan owns the Meydan Hotel in the city. This is home of the Dubai World Cup, which is a lavish equestrian racing event the Dubai ruler puts on each year.

What is Dubai Holding?

Dubai Holding is the personal investment portfolio of Sheikh Mohammed, it was formed in 2004.

It holds some of the UAE’s largest companies across various sectors, including Dubai Properties in real estate, TECOM Group in telecommunications, and Jumeirah Group in hospitality. Dubai Holding is also the second largest shareholder of Emaar – the developer of the Burj Khalifa.

Who is Sheikh Ahmed?

Sheikh Ahmed – now in charge of this new development firm – is the uncle of the ruler of Dubai. He became chairman of Emirates Group in 1985, the year it was founded. Industry legend Sir Tim Clark joined the same year and became company president in 2003.

The Emirates Group chairman also serves as chief executive and is heralded for taking the company from two leased planes in the 1980s to one of the world’s largest airlines today.

Sheikh Ahmed has contributed to Dubai’s global stature as a leading business, tourism, trade, and transport hub, with aviation now accounting for 28% of its GDP.


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Tags: emirates, emirates group, meydan, nakheel

Photo credit: Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum. WAM

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