H.H. Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum
Over the past 37 years, HH Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum has been at the forefront of Dubai’s remarkable economic development spearheading the successful expansion of aviation, which constitutes a substantial part of Dubai’s GDP, and formulating economic, investment and fiscal policies and strategies in support of the emirate’s overarching vision.
Sheikh Ahmed embarked on his career in the aviation industry in 1985 when he was appointed President of the Dubai Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) – the governing body that oversaw the activities of Dubai International (DXB) and Dubai Duty Free, among others. In that same year Emirates – Dubai’s international airline was launched with Sheikh Ahmed as its Chairman. He is now the Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates Airline & Group, which includes dnata – one of the world’s leading providers of air services and travel services, and other aviation related entities.
Award-winning Emirates is one of the world’s most recognised airline brands with a global footprint across six continents, connecting passengers and facilitating global trade. The airline operates one of the most modern, young and efficient fleets of spacious and comfortable Airbus A380 and Boeing 777 aircraft. Under his leadership, Emirates has been profitable for over 30 years. A trusted partner for over 300 airline customers worldwide, dnata offers ground handling, cargo, travel, catering and retail services in more than 35 countries across six continents. In the financial year 2021-22, dnata handled 527,000 aircraft turns, moved 3 million tons of cargo, uplifted more than 39.9 million meals and recorded a total transaction value (TTV) of travel service of US$ 632 million.
Dubai Duty Free has become one of the biggest single airport retail operations in the world with annual sales US$1.74 billion in 2022.
Under Sheikh Ahmed’s leadership, the DCA underwent an organisational restructuring in April 2007. This led to the creation of the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority (DCAA) as the local regulatory body, and Dubai Airports as the operator of Dubai’s airports – DXB and Dubai World Central (DWC). Following the restructuring, Sheikh Ahmed became the President of DCAA and Chairman of Dubai Airports.
The fact that Dubai is now firmly established as the region’s leading tourist destination and business, trade and transport hub is due in no small measure to Sheikh Ahmed’s efforts. Under his leadership, DXB has developed into the world’s busiest airport for international passengers and among the largest cargo hubs with a network of more than 200 destinations across 90 countries served by more than 80 international airlines. This was enabled by the hub’s timely and progressive expansion, including the opening of DXB’s Terminal 3 in October 2008; the opening of Concourse A, the world’s first purpose-built A380 facility in early 2013 and the opening of the $1.2 billion Concourse D in February 2016.
flydubai was established in 2008 to support Dubai’s thriving aviation hub, with Sheikh Ahmed as the Chairman. Since its launch, flydubai has been committed to creating free flows of trade and tourism; enabling more people to travel to more places more often. Over 14 years of operations, flydubai has built a network of more than 115 destinations, 77 of which were previously underserved or had very few direct air links to Dubai. Today, flydubai is the second-largest carrier operating out of DXB and has enabled more than 80 million passengers to travel conveniently across the region. The carrier operates one of the youngest and most efficient fleets in the skies with more than 70 Boeing 737 aircraft.
In January 2019 Sheikh Ahmed received the Honorary Sash of Mohammed Bin Rashid from His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, and Ruler of Dubai. This was for winning the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Government Excellence Award for his leadership in aviation.
Outside of aviation, Sheikh Ahmed holds several government positions and plays an increasingly pivotal role in leading the emirate’s finance and energy sectors.
In November 2019, Sheikh Ahmed was appointed to temporarily oversee Dubai Holding and Meraas, and in June 2020 Meraas merged under the umbrella of Dubai Holding with Sheikh Ahmed confirmed as its Chairman.
In January 2020, Sheikh Ahmed was appointed to the newly formed Dubai Council as the Commissioner General of Dubai Economy pillar to oversee the Department of Economic Development, Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing, and Dubai’s free zones, airports, ports and customs. In November 2021, the Department of Economic Development and the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing were merged, resulting in the establishment of the Department of Economy and Tourism (DET).
Sheikh Ahmed is also Chancellor of the Mohammed Bin Rashid University of Medicine and Health Sciences, a position he has held since 2016.
Despite his numerous business commitments, Sheikh Ahmed is patron to many charitable organisations. He has also received numerous accolades from various governments and multi-nationals.
Sheikh Ahmed has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Denver, Colorado, USA. He is well known internationally for his contribution to the development of regional aviation. The Royal Aeronautical Society, one of the industry’s oldest and most respected professional associations honoured his achievements in aviation with a fellowship of the Society at the 1994 Farnborough Air Show, UK. In May 2013, he was presented with an honorary Doctor of Science from City University London – Cass Business School in recognition of his outstanding leadership in the development of professional sectors including aviation, finance, banking and entrepreneurship in the UAE.