The Rainbow Sheikh – The Hobbies and Passions of Sheikh Hamad bin Hamdan al Nahyan

What do you do if you have all the money in the world but you just have no idea what to do with it? You may end up spending frivolously. Or you might use the money to buy things that are practically of no use at all.

Or better yet, imagine going into a store and finding something you like. You have so much money that you need not bother trying it on or testing it out. Instead, you just order every single size and color that they have. Sounds crazy and stupid, right? But heck, it is your money and you can do anything you want with it.

Such is the case of Sheikh Hamad bin Hamdan al Nahyan. He is a member of the ruling royal family of the United Arab Emirates. Based in Abu Dhabi, he is affectionately known as The Rainbow Sheikh because of his passion for the colors of the rainbow.

His family has ruled Abu Dhabi for more than three centuries now. It has presided over unprecedented growth boosted by its generous reserves of oil and natural gas. He is said to be worth over $20 billion. And because he is royalty, it is just fitting that he lives in a castle.

The Rainbow Sheikh used to serve in his country’s army but has since retired from service. He was also a diplomat, having served as an aide de camp to the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al Nahyan.


2 The Man is an Island

The Rainbow Sheik is the owner of an island that has a total area of 50 square kilometers, which is larger than Abu Dhabi central city. The island is called Futaisi Island and it was inherited from his father, the late Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed al Nahyan. His father is the cousin of the founder of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al Nahyan. The Rainbow Sheikh sought to put his mark and imprint on the island literally. He had his name “HAMAD” carved into Futaisi Island. The letters were so deep and huge that the inscription can actually be seen from outer space. The letters also formed waterways in the island.

Still, his passion lay with automobiles and vehicles. As a matter of fact, the Rainbow Sheikh takes a considerable amount of time studying and researching the latest development in the car industry throughout the world.


1 Vehicle Collection Hobby

The Rainbow Sheikh is the proud owner of one of the largest collections of cars in the world. He has around 400 cars and trucks stored in the Emirates National Auto Museum, or the ENAM. Located about 45 minutes away from Abu Dhabi, the 100 meters x 100 meters pyramid was specifically built to showcase his vehicles. It is open for free to the public.

Among its collections is a weird and strange-looking sphere that is a replica of the entire world. The sphere has a wheel and is an accurate 1 : 1 million facsimile of earth.

There is a vast array of vehicles in this museum. Included in the collection are minis, convertibles, coupes, sedans, luxury cars, jeeps, pick-ups, sports utility vehicles, vans, military vehicles, antiques and several specially made one-offs. Some are strange-looking, like an SUV with four parallel tires on each side of the vehicle. There are also vehicles specially designed for the dunes of Abu Dhabi’s desert. There is even a shiny see-through disco car. There are also a number of power wagons and a Kenworth 851.There is also a military vehicle so huge that there is a golf putting range on top.

Most of the cars were bought or ordered by the Sheikh, while others were given as gifts. True to his name, a number of vehicles have a rainbow logo painted into them, along with matching seats, interiors and hubcaps. Among its other notable collections are the following:

Mercedes Benz Collection – the Rainbow Sheikh is a huge fan of the German luxury car giant. There are several Mercedes Benzes in the museum. The most remarkable are the seven Mercedes Benz 500 SELs, which the Rainbow Sheikh ordered way back in 1983. Yes, seven! That is one Mercedes Benz 500 SEL for each day of the week.  He then had the renowned company in Germany called Styling Garage paint the seven into a color of the rainbow each. That means there is a red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet Mercedes 500 SEL in the collection.

That is not all. Each vehicle has gun racks built into the inside of the boot lid that can hold three M16 rifles. The rifles are also painted to match the color of the car. There are also refrigerators and television sets on the vehicles, with customized painting to keep with the rainbow theme.

Dodge Power Wagon – the Rainbow Sheikh also owns the largest truck in the world. It is a Dodge Power Wagon eight times the original size. The wagon is an exact replica down to the minutest detail. The size of the truck was only limited by the size of the wheels that the carmaker could get its hands on. The biggest they found were those from an oil transporter. Its wipers are the ones used in an ocean liner. A six-cylinder Detroit Diesel engine with 300 horsepower is used to actually move the thing like a real truck. It weighs more than 50 tons and features four large, airconditioned bedrooms. The tailgate also opens up like a patio. There is also a staircase below the cab that leads up to the front door. Just like a real truck, it has a steering link and brakes in place.

Willy’s World War II Jeep – the Rainbow Sheikh also created the largest motorized model of the famous Willy’s Jeep that was used by the US Army in World War II.  The Guinness Book of World Records recognizes this. The Rainbow Sheikh has said that it was built to showcase UAE’s design and construction capabilities.


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