Locals thwart Dubai ruler's Scottish estate expansion plans

The billionaire ruler of Dubai has withdrawn plans to expand his massive Scottish estate following pressure from locals and government chiefs.

Sheikh Mohamed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum the Crown Prince and Ruler of Dubai.  (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
Sheikh Mohamed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum the Crown Prince and Ruler of Dubai. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum was hoping to expand his massive Scottish estate to accommodate his huge family by building a nine bed house and two lodges for his staff.

But concerns were raised by Transport Scotland and local residents that the prince’s entourage would wreck havoc on local roads which are in a designated ‘national scenic area.’ Sheikh Mohammed, who has several wives and 23 children, said that the family’s trips to Inverinate in Wester Ross had been “limited by a lack of accommodation”.

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The rich ruler, through his development company Smech Properties Ltd sought to build two new lodges and a nine-bedroom house at his Highland retreat to help accommodate his huge family, servants and entourage.

Objections were also raised by religious leaders at the Church of Scotland who claimed that the development sited in the was not acceptable because of the “scale” of the plans.

Local residents also slammed the plans with one Tina McLeod described them as “utterly hideous”.

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

Highland Council confirmed that the application from his development company Smech Properties Ltd had been withdrawn on Wednesday, December 19.

It also comes after the Sheikh had been accused of showing “cynical disregard” for planning laws by erecting a two-metre high spiked metal fence around his £75m Longcross Estate last week.

The development already has a 14 bedroom holiday home next door to a 16 bedroom luxury hunting lodge as well as a triple helipad to accommodate his luxury helicopters.

It was meant to be the latest development on the sheikh’s estate, which has a triple helipad and a 14-bedroom holiday home next door to a 16-bedroom luxury hunting lodge complete with a swimming pool and gym.

Sheikh Mohammed who submitted the plans to Highland Council in September has a fortune worth more than £13.73 billion and brought the estate around 20 years ago.

His family - which include more than 30 children - use it in summer to escape the 50C Dubai heat.

The sheikh is best known in Britain for being one of the top racehorse owners, 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.

Maktoum’s greatest passion is horse-racing and he is the owner of the Godolphin stables, which has produced some of the leading thoroughbreds in the sport.

Estimated to have a personal fortune of £15bn, in the last 15 years he has transformed Dubai into one of the most modern cities in the world.

Maktoum was behind the Palm Islands, the Burj Al-Arab hotel, the Burj Khalifa skyscraper that dominates the skyline of the city. He also helped start Emirates airlines, sponsors of Arsenal and Paris St Germain football teams.

His first marriage was in 1979 and later wed the daughter of the King of Jordan.

The plans comes after one of his runway daughters, Latifa, sent out a distress message claiming men firing gunshots were outside her hideout.

Smech Properties Ltd did not respond to a request for comment.