Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, head of the Emirates airline, is taking over as chairman of Dubai World as the company struggles to restructure.

Dubai's government said today that Sheikh Ahmed will replace Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, who oversaw the construction of palm-shaped islands off the emirate's coast, Bloomberg News reported.

Dubai World took on $40 billion of debt as it became the world's fourth-largest port operator and took stakes in big-name companies such as luxury retailer Barneys New York Inc.

Last year, Dubai World said it would freeze repayments on $24.9 billion of loans. In October, more than 70 creditor banks agreed to new debt terms.

Now, Sheikh Ahmed and a new board will try to push the company towards new success.

"The moves are absolutely necessary and should have been done a year ago," Christopher Davidson, a professor of Middle East studies at Durham University in the U.K., told Bloomberg News. "Sheikh Ahmed is a solid player in Dubai's economy, having built Emirates up over many years."



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