Dubai sheikh named district 'Hind City' to honour wife, not India

Copyright © AFP 2017-2023. All rights reserved.

After Dubai's ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum renamed a district "Hind City", social media posts in Hindu-majority India falsely claimed the move was to honour India and Hindus. The Dubai government's media office told AFP that the sheikh renamed the district in honour of his wife, Sheikha Hind bint Maktoum.

"Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, ruler of Dubai and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates, has ordered that a district in the emirate, 'Al Minhad', be renamed 'Hind City'," reads a Hindi-language Facebook post shared on January 30.

The sheikh "says Al Minhad and its surrounding 84 square kilometre area will now be known as 'Hind City' to honour the contribution of India and Hindus towards humanity".

"Perhaps today supporters of Pakistan living in India also will not be able to sleep peacefully," the post reads, appearing to refer to people critical of the ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party.

A screenshot of the lead post, captured on February 9, 2023

The claim was also shared in a tweet that racked up more than 39,000 likes, and in a string of Facebook posts, including here, here and here.

The sheikh announced on January 29 that the Al Minhad area of Dubai would be renamed Hind City.

The name change was widely reported by local and international media outlets -- including the Emirates News Agency, Gulf News and India's ANI news agency -- none of which said it was intended to express gratitude to India or Hindus.

The Dubai government's media office said the area was renamed to honour the sheikh's wife.

"His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, renamed the Al Minhad area as Hind City in honour of his wife, Sheikha Hind bint Maktoum," the office said in an email on February 3.

"Hind is an Arabic name that has its roots in the region’s ancient civilization," it added.

An Arabic language professor confirmed that Hind was a "very popular female name in the Arab world for over 16 centuries".

Mujeebur Rahman, a professor at the Centre of Arabic and African studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi said that while 'al-Hind' means 'India' in Arabic, it refers to a female name when the article 'al' is removed.