Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and the stateowned investment companies he controls are not only developing the whole of Dubai, they are funneling oil money into projects all over the world and, in the process, transforming the competitive landscape of the global private equity real estate industry.
In Dubai, Sheikh Maktoum is carrying on the legacy of his brother, Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, the man largely responsible for the push to modernize the emirate, by carrying out some of the most extensive development plans the world has ever seen: huge swaths of reclaimed land, a theme park the size of Singapore, the world's biggest marina, tallest tower, biggest shopping mall and on and on.
At the same time, Dubai is opening its doors to foreign investors as it looks to become the financial center of the Middle East. The laws have been changed to allow foreigners to buy residential property and REIT legislation is already in place. But more significantly, Sheikh Mo, as he is affectionately known by members of his inner circle, is spreading the wealth well beyond Dubai, emerging as a giant purchaser of real estate in his own right.
“Most people talk,” he has said in the past. “We do things. They plan. We achieve. They hesitate. We move ahead.”
Given the size of his wallet, Sheikh Mo will be moving far. Private equity real estate firms may be looking over their shoulder.