This analysis follows the article published by Shadow Governance in August 2017 that focused on identifying where familial power lies in Abu Dhabi. This piece considers the commercial and political influence of families in Dubai, the Emirates’ leading tourism and financial services hub. As is the case, the political and commercial make-up of Dubai is notably different to Abu Dhabi’s, and so investors should take note of the families and entities which distinguish the two cities.
 
Impact Points

  • In the UAE, each Emirate enjoys a degree of autonomy and sovereignty despite belonging to the overall federation. This means that each Emirate’s affairs are governed by the indigenous ruling elite, which in Dubai’s case is the Al Maktoum.
  • However, they do not act alone and there are various other family blocs that take an active and hands-on role in the Dubai economy and political structures, supporting the efforts of the rulers.
  • Some of these families have become first and foremost ‘commercial powerhouses’ that benefit from strong political ties, whilst others are less financially successful but retain their prominence by working in tandem with the Al Maktoum.

Although Dubai is officially governed by the Al Maktoum – namely Mohammed bin Rashid as Emir and Crown Prince Hamdan bin Mohammed – it is the case that a wider cadre of families wield considerable influence in the Emirate. An assessment of the individuals associated with the Dubai Financial Market (“DFM”), elite political councils, sovereign wealth funds, and private businesses reveals that high-profile families with historical links to the ruling elite hold prominence.