Emir of Dubai takes £1m in farm subsidies for horse breeding empire

Last edited 23 October 2016 at 9:43am
23 October, 2016

The Emir of Dubai has received almost £1 million in farm subsidies over the last two years for thoroughbred stud farms that boast tennis courts, a mansion, helipads and even a swimming pool for horses, Greenpeace can reveal.

Read the full investigation here.

The billionaire Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who is also the Prime Minister and Vice-President of the United Arab Emirates, received a startling £923,760 in taxpayer subsidies for his Newmarket-based stud farms Darley Stud and Godolphin, Greenpeace has found. A further £110,301 went to Smech Management Company, which is also owned by Sheikh Mohammed. Of these payments, a total of £947,211 came from the controversial “single payment scheme”, based primarily on the area of land owned, rather than how that land is used.

The revelations come as part of Greenpeace’s ongoing investigation into Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) subsidies. Just weeks ago, Greenpeace revealed that 16 of the Top 100 recipients of single area payments were on the Sunday Times Rich List.

Greenpeace is calling for subsidies to be conditional on landowners producing a public good, through sustainable food production and environmental benefits.

These fresh revelations will pour pressure on the Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom as she prepares to face questioning by the Environmental Audit Committee on Tuesday 25 October.


Planning documents obtained by Greenpeace show that high-end infrastructure built for Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin stud farm sits on land previously reserved for agriculture. In 2005 Godolphin received planning permission for a “change of use of land from agricultural to racehorse training facility with creation of two all-weather tracks and provision of grass gallops, car-parking, covered ride and equine swimming pool.”

Brothers in alms

But the full extent of taxpayers’ generosity to Dubai’s royalty is even greater. Greenpeace has found that Sheikh Mohammed’s brother, Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, is also claiming large sums for his UK stud farms.

Sheikh Hamdan, the UAE’s finance minister, owns the Norfolk-based Shadwell Estate Company stud farm, as well as Kingwood House Stables. Over the past two years the businesses have received £294,334 under the single payment scheme.

Hannah Martin, campaigner at Greenpeace UK, said:

“The Emir of Dubai is one of the richest royals in the world and is hardly in need of taxpayer-funded handouts. But much of the cash from the farm subsidy system rewards landowners not for doing public good but instead for the size of their landholding. The post-Brexit system should be helping farmers who need it and encouraging crucial environmental benefits like reducing flood risk, enhancing biodiversity, ensuring sustainable food production and improving soil health and carbon sequestration. That’s what a sustainable rural policy looks like.”

Notes to editor

Read the full investigation here: http://energydesk.greenpeace.org/2016/10/23/uae-prime-minister-given-1m-farm-subsidies-horse-breeding-empire/

On Tuesday 25 October, the Environmental Audit Committee will question the Environment Secretary, Andrea Leadsom MP, on the Future of the Natural Environment After the EU Referendum.

For interviews and comments, contact:

Luke Massey, luke.massey@greenpeace.org, 07973 873 155

Follow Greenpeace UK