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Wed 20 May 2009 08:26 AM

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Top Dubai official defends decision to replace finance chief

New finance boss 'right man' to manage next stage of crisis, director of ruler's office. 

A top Dubai official moved to assure investors that the emirate was committed to meeting its financial obligations, one day after Dubai's ruler dismissed his finance chief.

The surprise dismissal of Nasser Al Sheikh as the emirate's finance head on Monday triggered questions among some investors about Dubai's economic future.

"The government is firmly committed to sustainable fiscal policies and to adopt actions that are appropriate for the current circumstances taking into account the scope of the global crisis, meeting Dubai's financial obligations and future development requirements," said Mohammed Al Shaibani, aide to Dubai's ruler, in a statement issued late on Tuesday.

Al Shaibani is director of the office of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Ruler of Dubai and vice president and prime minister of the UAE.

Al Shaibani expressed his support for the new finance director, Abdul Rahman Al Saleh, as "the right man to lead the next stage of managing the economic situation".

Saleh previously held a top position at Dubai's customs authority and was in charge of the now shelved VAT plan.

The timing of the surprise leadership switch comes just three months after the Dubai government launched a $20bn bond programme, to ease liquidity difficulties at a number ofgovernment-related entities (GREs).

The emirate has said it has outstanding debt of around $80bn.

So far more than 50 percent of a first $10bn tranche of the bond, which was bought up by the UAE Central Bank, has been distributed to GREs, such as the property developer Nakeel. 

The second $10bn tranche is due to be released by the end of the year.

During his brief tenure, Al Sheikh earned a measure of respect from investors as head of the department for his efforts to navigate the difficulties created in the emirate as a result of the global economic crisis.

In his new position, Al Sheikh will serve as an assistant to the director of the ruler's court for foreign affairs.

He also holds leadership or positions at a number of important Dubai companies. (Reuters)

Geriant 10 years ago

Talk about being sidelined to an inactive post. This guy was in the world spotlight, apologising for Dubai's fiscal mess, and has now been rewarded by demotion to the wilderness. No amount of spin is going to save the emirate's reputation if petulant moves of the chess pieces like this continue.

Skeptical 10 years ago

Mr. Shaikh was demoted because he said the wrong things to CNBC and probably others when interviewed at the World Economic Forum in Jordan. If the Dubai government had been thinking about making a change in this position why send Mr. Shaikh to Jordan where he would be interviewed by countless media from around the world? Even if Mr. Shaikh said something wrong, demoting him immediately after the forum in Jordan has raised a lot of eye brows across the world. Maybe the government should have waited a few weeks and told Mr. Shaikh to keep a low profile and keep his mouth shut until the announcement. Unfortunately this is not how the demotion was handled so now the whole world is talking bad about Dubai....again!

May Flowers 10 years ago

Obviously for those who know the structure of the Dubai local government, Mr. Al Sheikh was promoted to a higher position in the Ruler's Court. He proved himself through the conference in Jordan to be a skillful communicator, and now he has a full time job to do just that. I wonder what was the motivation for those who immediately reacted with these negative thoughts!!. Incedently, he is today in the press performing his new duties. I wish him every success in his new chalange. May I also add that Mr. Al Saleh is a brillient manager, who was promoted after he excelled in his previous job, a well deserved recognition by the government.

Dude 10 years ago

Perhaps many won't agree to this decision but the reality some of Mr. Al Sheikh comments and statements were unnecessary, even if investors liked it, because it will create difficulties to Dubai. So the difficult situation was made difficult by his statements and now his removal made even more difficult. This is my view which can be either right or wrong or in between.....