The Manchester City owner is extremely rich, discreet and well connected, representing the new generation of Emirati leaders
Young, immensely wealthy, and with an exceptional network of international contacts that ranges from former President Barack Obama to King Emeritus Juan Carlos. Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan is one of the men who pulls the strings in international finance.
But far from the ostentation of other tycoons, Sheikh Mansour is discreet, very private and a man of few public words.
One of his most prized possessions is Manchester City, which he bought in 2008 for 150 million pounds. From day one he won the support of City fans. Noel Gallagher, from the pop band Oasis, welcomed the purchase: “At last our prince has arrived. After 40 years of misery, my lifelong loyalty to this team will finally pay off. ”
Manchester City has cost him an average of 400 million season on season, and he is determined to build on its success.
He fired the first president of his era, Al Fahim, and took on Pep Guardiola as coach during the 2016-2017 season. Although the club has just been eliminated from the European Cup by Olympique Lyonnais, it is still a project that he holds close to his heart.
“In Abu Dhabi, heritage and culture are inherent in our values and our way of life. I think it is the same that happens in Manchester, “said Sheikh Mansour in one of his few public statements.
The Sheikh also owns other football clubs through his City Football Group, including Melbourne City CF and New York City FC. It has investments in the Yokohama F. Marinos of Japan, the Club Atletico Torque of Uruguay and Girona.
Born in 1970, he is the 11th child of the founder of the Emirates, Sheikh Zayed, who had 19 children. His half-brother, Jalifa, is the president of the country, although since 2014, when he suffered a stroke, he has been kept very much in the background. The de facto ruler is currently Mohamed bin Zayed, the emir of Abu Dhabi, also a brother. He is the most powerful man on the Arabian Peninsula and has just opened relations with Israel, in a move that has outraged Iran.
Sheikh Mansour is also related to the Emir of Dubai, Mohamed bin Rashid al Maktoum, his father-in-law since 2005.
The marriage strengthened the bond between the two main emirates of the Gulf. He has a son from his first wife and three others from his second, who is an active figure in Emirati society. They are both very fond of art, and great owners of many international paintings.
For Sheikh Mansour it is essential to strengthen this federation. He is one of the few from Abu Dhabi to sport a Dubai-style beard, a sign of his unifying ways..
Sheik Mansour also owns Mudabala, a global investment company that has bought half of Mina de Aguas Teñidas in Huelva. This sovereign fund has 600,000 million to invest in the world.
He is president of the International Petroleum Investment Company fund, which controls one hundred percent of the Spanish oil company Cepsa, with two refineries in Huelva and Algeciras. He is also chairman of the Ministerial Council for Services, the Emirates Investment Authority and the Emirates Racing Authority.
His company has also invested in Virgin Galactic (280 million dollars in 2009, 32% of the company). It is a company that is part of Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, which plans to conduct manned suborbital space flights.
He has a stake in Daimler, and as a great horse lover, a passion he shares with his father-in-law, the Emir of Dubai, he sponsors races across the world. The Emir of Dubai owns Goldophin, one of the best stables in the world.
Like many Arab millionaires, he is in love with Spain where he has a 8,300-hectare farm in Valencia de las Torres, a town in Badajoz. He bought it for more than 50 million euros from the Mora-Figueroa Domecq family.
The farm, called Quintos de San Martín, was the venue where King Juan Carlos carried out much of his hunting. The sheikh bought the land to create a farm dedicated to the breeding and export of lamb and mutton, slaughtered according to the halal rite, the only method allowed by Islam.
Together with his brothers, he owns the largest yacht in the world, the Azzam, 180 metres long, which has been seen this summer off the coast of Cadiz. The Azzam has an explosive-proof suite as well as a missile defence system.
Of the Emirati court, Sheik Mansour is the closest to King Juan Carlos, who has been in the Emirates since August 3, now confirmed by the Royal Household. The King Emeritus has always emphasised the great friendship that united him to the young sheikh.
Sheikh Mansoor is one of the most prominent figures in the new generation of Emirati leaders. He seems like the logical replacement for his brother, the President and Emir of Abu Dhabi, and his father-in-law, the Emir of Dubai. But he is still a relatively young man with a future that still has a long time to go.