Mystery deepens over Dubai prince’s plans for Hong Kong as protocol chief says head of family office ‘not authorised to talk on behalf’ of sheikh

Exclusive | Mystery deepens over Dubai prince’s plans for Hong Kong as protocol chief says head of family office ‘not authorised to talk on behalf’ of sheikh

A Dubai-based protocol officer for Sheikh Ali Rashed Al Maktoum has said the head of the Hong Kong family office is not authorised to talk on the prince’s behalf about his plans to return to the city and “has no charges” in his companies.

The Post received the statement on Wednesday, a day after publishing an interview with Eleanor Jane Mak, who discussed the potential return of the Dubai sheikh in her capacity as vice-chairman and CEO of his family office in Hong Kong.

“We regret to inform you that Miss Eleanor Jane Mak doesn’t have any power of representation and she is not authorised to talk on behalf of Sheikh Ali Al Maktoum,” Marco Carenzi, head of protocol and security management of the prince’s office, said in an email.

“Furthermore she has no charges in the sheikh’s companies,” he said without elaborating, and provided no details about the operations or plans of the Hong Kong-based office.

Carenzi also said it was hoped further releases could be avoided “without official communications from the sheikh’s office”.

Mak was not available for comment on Wednesday.

Sheikh Ali Al Maktoum Photo: Yik Yeung-man

She told the Post on Tuesday that the sheikh would visit the city within weeks to attend the Hong Kong office’s inauguration event, the exact date of which might be in June because of scheduling and other considerations.

Maktoum drew public attention when he called off the inauguration ceremony for the Hong Kong-based office at the eleventh hour in March due to “some urgent unexpected private matters”.

His office later announced that the ceremony would be held at the end of May.

The Post also reported that the sheikh apparently had an alter ego as singer-songwriter Alira, who had built up a following of Filipino fans, before switching to investments some time last year.

Mak was quoted in media reports, including by the Post, in relation to the family office’s plan.

She told the Post she had studied law and worked in art investment before investing in health and agricultural technology projects in 2017, when she also began to promote the overseas use of an electric suspended monorail system developed in Sichuan.

Mak said the sheikh first began working with her company to develop monorail systems in the Gulf region, and she then agreed to lead the effort to set up a family office in Hong Kong.

The official website of the sheikh’s Dubai office was still “under maintenance” on Wednesday.

In Hong Kong, Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury Christopher Hui Ching-yu said the city welcomed all “lawful and rule-compliant” capital when asked about Mak’s comments on the likelihood of the sheikh’s return to the city.

“Hong Kong has adopted various policies and strategies to attract different institutions to come and establish family offices,” he said after an antechamber meeting with lawmakers.

“These efforts are continuous. Any capital, as long as lawful and rule-compliant, is welcome in Hong Kong.”

Maktoum was invited to speak at the Wealth for Good in Hong Kong Summit in March. The event was organised by the Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau in collaboration with InvestHK.



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