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How to ‘own’ an island

By Judy Martel · Bankrate.com
Wednesday, September 19, 2012
Posted: 6 am ET

For all the billionaires who strive to keep their wealth private, there are always those seeking to publicly preserve their name. Most of the time, it's done through a sizable endowment -- naming a hospital wing or cultural center after themselves, for example. Or, like Microsoft founder Bill Gates, with an eponymous foundation.

But for one Arab billionaire, known as "the rainbow sheikh" for his fleet of more than 200 brightly hued cars, hubris seems to have been the sole motivation for his action. Remember when you were a kid and wanted to write your name on all your possessions?

Sheikh Hamad bin Hamdan Al Nahyan, a member of Abu Dhabi's ruling family, inscribed his name, "Hamad" in the sand on the island of Al Futaisi. We're not talking about using a stick to draw your name on the beach, knowing it will be gone with the next tide. This graffiti is so large it can be seen from space. According to Bloomberg, the inscription is 2 miles wide and approximately a half-mile tall. Google Earth captured the image.

Nearly half the name is filled with water because the tip of the H extends into a strait leading to the Persian Gulf. Hamad owns Al Futaisi, which he reportedly turned into a private resort. Perhaps by in effect signing the island, he's making sure everyone knows who owns it, or perhaps he has plans to open the island to the public and put the letters to some novel use. Then again, he could have done it for his own amusement. After all, he has the money.

What do you think of the sheikh's graffiti?

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