Case | HBS Case Collection | February 2010 (Revised August 2010)

Sheikh Mohammed and the Making of 'Dubai, Inc.'

by Anthony Mayo, Nitin Nohria, Umaimah Mendhro and Johnathan Cromwell


Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum has converted Dubai from a sleepy little coastal village into a world-class city, famous for its ambition, drive, and economic promise. He is the founder, part-owner, and visionary behind companies such as Emirates Airlines, a UAE-based airline serving over 100 destinations; Nakheel, the property developer that built a trilogy of man-made islands; and DP World, a leader in international marine terminal operations. Despite being surrounded by political instability in the Middle East, Sheikh Mohammed pursued capitalism and embraced Western culture while maintaining safety for millions of annual tourists. By 2010, Dubai had the world's tallest building, the most expensive hotel, and the largest shopping mall. But rapid development did not come without difficulties. While hundreds of thousands immigrated to help build the metropolis, labor conditions suffered and some local Emirati felt like they lost aspects of their cultural identity. Growth was rapid, infrastructure was weak, and the real estate bubble grew as the financial crisis loomed. To produce economic, social, and cultural prosperity for the people of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed had to balance his role as a business leader and a political ruler.

Keywords: Development Economics; Leadership Style; Emerging Markets; Personal Development and Career; Business and Community Relations; Business and Government Relations; Dubai;


Mayo, Anthony, Nitin Nohria, Umaimah Mendhro, and Johnathan Cromwell. "Sheikh Mohammed and the Making of 'Dubai, Inc.'." Harvard Business School Case 410-063, February 2010. (Revised August 2010.)