Where's the tallest building in the world? It should come as no surprise that it's in the realm of Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, ruler of Dubai and unlikely poster boy for globalization. When the Burj Dubai (Dubai Tower) is completed next year, the 160-plus-story spire of offices and luxury apartments will be the latest jewel in the impressive crown that Sheik Mohammed, 58, has been steadily assembling for a quarter-century.
Working first as a deputy to his father, the late Sheik Rashid, and since 2006 ruling the country on his own, Sheik Mo (as some of his subjects fondly call him) has transformed the petroleum-poor desert emirate into a major global hub for business, finance, trade and tourism. Sheik Mo has made Dubai an internationally recognized synonym for success in a Middle East that has been plagued by war, civil discontent and religious extremism.
His pursuit of excellence extends from business to sports: a champion equestrian, Sheik Mo owns leading stud farms and hosts the world's richest horse race. And it has made him a role model for a new generation of Arab leaders. Last year he set up the Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum Foundation with a $10 billion endowment; it aims to inspire knowledge, ideas and innovation among the builders of tomorrow's Arab world. Dubai's visionary wants young Arab minds, too, to reach for the skies.
Next Yoani Sánchez