His Highness Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai was born in 1949.

When he was just 18 he was present while Sheikh Rashid and Sheikh Zayed met in the desert between Dubai and Abu Dhabi in 1968 to agree on the union of the two emirates.

In the nearly five decades since, the whole of the UAE has changed and developed at a pace that no one could ever have imagined – and Sheikh Mohammed (who was behind the founding and building of everything from Emirates Airlines to the Burj Al Arab) has been instrumental in it all.

In the lead up to the UAE’s 44th National Day, here’s a celebration of Dubai’s ruler via his very own Instagram…

*MORE: 21 Instagrams that prove that Sheikh Hamdan is the world’s most athletic royal*

1. A young Sheikh Mohammed back when Dubai was very different to how it is now (the dirham didn’t even exist in the 1950s – in fact, it was the Indian Rupee that was widely used as currency in the trading town).

2. Two visionaries: A young Sheikh Mohammed with his dad Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, one of the founding fathers of the UAE, he ruled Dubai from 1958 to 1990.

3. With his brother, who he calls “his mentor”, the late Sheikh Maktoum Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who was the Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai until 2006.

4. Sheikh Mohammed was once the head of the Dubai Police and Defence Force, and here he is honouring UAE servicemen with medals.

5. In this Instagram he tells us that the desert is where he finds both his peace and his inspiration.

6. At a conference dealing with the challenges of building a new nation with Saif Ghobash, who was the UAE’s first Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Taryam Omran, who founded the Al Khaleej – the UAE’s first newspaper.

7. This may just be the cutest camel we’ve ever seen.

8. Giving fatherly advice to a young Sheikh Hamdan, who is now the Crown Prince of Dubai. 

9. Performing Eid al Fitr prayers with two of his sons.

صلاة عيد الفطر المبارك Eid Al Fitr prayer

A photo posted by Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum (@hhshkmohd) on

10. His love for horses goes way back: he was taught how to ride at a young age by his father, Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum.

11. He’s a very skilled rider, particularly in the field of endurance racing. With races at around 120-kilometres long, endurance racing is the horse riding equivalent of a marathon. Sheikh Mohammed is known as a master tactician of the race, sensing when to really push and when to hold back in order to achieve the best possible result overall.

12. And here he is galloping past the Pyramids in Egypt.

#sheikhmohammed #dubai #mohammedbinrashid #hhshkmohd #uae

A photo posted by Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum (@hhshkmohd) on

13. He doesn’t always need to be surrounded by the finer things in life, and he captioned this image: “A life of simplicity means the world to me”.

14. As evidence of the above, here he is teaching his sons how to cook a meal with nothing but a pot and some logs.

15. He stumbled across this group from a Chinese company sitting under a Ghaf tree having a brainstorm session while out in the desert. So what did he do? He joined them.

16. With Abdullah Al Hasani, a Fujairah retiree. Sheikh Mohammed read about the man’s health problems in the paper, and so then went out of his way to make sure he was receiving the best possible treatment.

 17. Meeting the locals while travelling through Africa.

18. With the brave Emirati men who make up the military’s flying aerobatics team Al Fursan (they pull off mid-air tricks and stunts while in super-speedy jets).

19. Keeping fit on the bike with friends and family.

20. With his youngest children Sheikha Al Jalila bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum & Sheikh Zayed bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who are now seven and three respectively.

مع الجليلة وزايد With Al Jalila & Zayed

A photo posted by Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum (@hhshkmohd) on

21. And here he is, just a week ago, taking advantage of the cooler weather and enjoying a desert feast with his family.

مع الأبناء والاصدقاء في اجواء شتوية أسرية..

A photo posted by Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum (@hhshkmohd) on

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