The Sheikh Who Carved His Name in Sand

The Sheikh Who Carved His Name in Sand

Residential News » Global Property Beat | By Kevin Brass | May 3, 2013 2:08 PM ET

My favorite story of the week comes out of the sand dunes of the United Arab Emirates.

The story focused on one of the many oddities in the country, a construction project on a largely-deserted private island outside Abu Dhabi. A few years ago a network of canals were carved into the sand in the shape of giant letters, which spelled out "Hamad."
The 1,000-meter tall, mile-long canals were Sheikh Hamad Bin Hamdan Al Nahyan's tribute to himself. The letters were big enough to see from space, which was apparently very important to Sheikh Hamad, a member of the royal family. Sheikh Hamad is known locally as the "Rainbow Sheikh," apparently due to his collection of Mercedes in every color of the rainbow, housed in pyramid-shaped museum he built in the desert.

Alas, this week the Wall Street Journal reported that the Rainbow Sheikh's giant self-promotion has been washed away and the canals filled in. No explanation was given, but there was speculation that Sheikh Hamad was told the project did not fit the modern image of Abu Dhabi.

"The rumor was one relative in the royal family told him to stop," one person who used to work on the island told reporter Asa Fitch. "It was the sheikh's pet project, but it doesn't fit into Abu Dhabi 2030."

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