Dubai ruler’s expansion plan for luxury Highlands estate approved

Dubai's ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, has had his plans for the Scottish Highlands estate approved. Picture: AP Photo/Jon Gambrell
Dubai's ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, has had his plans for the Scottish Highlands estate approved. Picture: AP Photo/Jon Gambrell
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The billionaire ruler of Dubai has been given permission to expand his 63,000 acre luxury estate in the Scottish Highlands, adding a nine-bed house and a lodge for his staff.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum’s architects said his family’s trips to their sprawling Highlands holiday estate had been “limited by lack of accommodation”.

The racehorse owner, who has several wives and 23 children, applied for planning permission to build a lodge for staff and another house.

And despite objections the prince’s entourage would wreak havoc on local roads, Highland Council planners gave the proposal the green light this week.

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The sheikh’s estate in Inverinate, Wester Ross, already has a triple helipad, a 14-bedroom holiday home and a 16-bed luxury hunting lodge with a swimming pool and gym.

In a planning decision notice, Highland Council case officer Graham Sharp, said: “All relevant matters have been taken into account when appraising this application.

“It is considered that the proposal is acceptable in terms of all other applicable material considerations.”

Sheikh Mohammed, who is reportedly worth more than £13.7 billion, bought the estate on the shores of Loch Duich around 20 years ago.

But his development company Smech Properties Ltd applied to Highland Council this summer for two lodges and another house.

In a statement to planners, Colin Armstrong Architects, who submitted the plans, said: “The owners of Inverinate Estate typically travel in large groups of immediate and extended family and friends.

“In recent years their travel to Inverinate has been limited by lack of accommodation.”

Concerns were raised by Transport Scotland and local residents that it would add traffic to the roads, which are in a designated ‘national scenic area’.

Writing in October, Transport Scotland’s Ken Aitken said he wanted to know how often and for how long people would be visiting the estate.

The Church of Scotland also claimed the “scale” of the development was not acceptable.

Local resident Tina McLeod described the plans as “utterly hideous”.

She said: “Is this traditional Highland estate set to become yet another playground resort for the rich with little or no benefit to the local community?”

In December, the Shiekh withdraw plans for one of the two new proposed lodges.

The plans for the nine-bed home and one lodge was approved by the council on Monday.

The sheikh is best known in Britain for being a top racehorse owner. He is credited with turning Dubai into one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world.

He succeeded his brother in 2006 to become the ruler of Dubai and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates.

The sheikh’s family reportedly use the Highland estate in summer to escape the 50C Dubai heat.