Darkish particulars of Dubai ruler’s personal life laid naked by UK courtroom case

Dubai ruler oversaw threats to wife and abduction of daughters, court rules

Components of the ruling launched by London’s Excessive Courtroom learn like a thriller: a daring escape through dinghy, jet ski and yacht by a royal daughter trying to flee the clutches of her domineering father. A princess caught in an affair together with her bodyguard flees in worry of her life.

However for Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai, it should have felt like a horror story as this week the lid was lifted on among the darkest particulars of his personal life and offered to the world. 

The ruling, launched on Thursday, confirmed years of rumours about Sheikh Mohammed’s therapy of rebellious daughters determined to interrupt out from their restrictive life. It additionally laid naked a marketing campaign of intimidation towards his sixth spouse, Princess Haya, with extraordinary element concerning the difficult household lifetime of a person revered by many within the United Arab Emirates as one of many Center East’s most modernising and visionary leaders. 

The knowledge was launched as a part of a months-long custody battle between Sheikh Mohammed and Princess Haya, who fled to the UK in April final 12 months with their two younger youngsters.

Within the UAE, a conservative and patriarchal society the place public dialogue of the ruling households’ personal lives is frowned upon, the media has not lined the courtroom case. Emiratis credit score Sheikh Mohammed, 70, for overseeing the dramatic transformation of Dubai from a small Gulf backwater, missing the oil riches of its bigger neighbours, into a worldwide commerce and tourism hub. The revelations are unlikely to have an effect on his home standing. 

However the particulars are nonetheless damaging for a person used to mixing with excessive society abroad, notably within the UK the place his Godolphin secure is a dominant power in horseracing and the place Sheikh Mohammed, a graduate of Sandhurst navy academy, is an everyday fixture alongside Queen Elizabeth within the royal field at Ascot, one in every of Britain’s most prestigious sporting occasions.

Queen Elizabeth presents Sheikh Mohammed with a trophy at Royal Ascot in June final 12 months. His Godolphin secure is a dominant power in horseracing © John Sibley/Reuters

“Clearly it’s soiled laundry that has been aired and that’s going to take a shine off issues. It’s embarrassing, however will cross,” stated Michael Stephens, an affiliate fellow on the Royal United Companies Institute. “I’d be very shocked if UK-UAE relations have been harm in any significant approach due to this.” 

Sheikh Mohammed, who can be the UAE’s vice-president and deputy prime minister, selected not to participate within the courtroom proceedings and stated the fact-finding judgment instructed just one aspect of the story. He employed among the UK’s high legal professionals in an try to forestall the ruling from changing into public, however the Courtroom of Enchantment dominated that it ought to be printed. 

The end result was the discharge of particulars together with how in 2000 one in every of his daughters from a earlier marriage, Sheikha Shamsa, was kidnapped by Arab males after she had sought immigration recommendation whereas visiting Cambridge, the English college metropolis. Then 19, she was taken to Sheikh Mohammed’s Newmarket property earlier than being whisked to Paris in a helicopter, from the place she was flown again to Dubai.

A British police detective who stated he spoke by phone to a girl who claimed to be Sheikha Shamsa then investigated her abduction claims. However when he sought permission from the UK’s prosecution providers to go to Dubai, it was refused, the ruling stated.

In the midst of the courtroom proceedings, a request was made to the UK’s International Workplace for data relating to the British police investigation. Based on the courtroom paperwork, the International Workplace confirmed it had particulars related to the request however refused to reveal the data, citing causes together with the necessity to defend relations between the UK and different states. There at the moment are requires the UK to reopen the investigation.

Cambridgeshire police stated in a press release on Friday that an investigation into Sheikha Shamsa’s alleged abduction was performed in 2001, however the proof out there was inadequate for it to take any motion. A evaluate was carried out in 2017, however the power reached an identical conclusion. The assertion stated the investigation was not lively, however added that “in gentle of the current launch of the judgement, elements of the case will now be topic to evaluate”.

Sheikha Shamsa’s youthful sister, Sheikha Latifa, made her personal escape makes an attempt in 2002 and 2018, the courtroom heard. Within the latter, she left Dubai for Oman with the assistance of her Finnish health coach and got down to sea in a dingy. She finally ended up on yacht operated by a French man who helped organise the escape for a charge of about €350,000, in keeping with witness statements. 

The escape was foiled when Indian commandos boarded the yacht off the coast of Goa and Sheikha Latifa was handed over to Emirati safety forces who took her again to Dubai. 

FILE - In this Sunday, Jan 17, 2016 file photo, Princess Haya bint al-Hussein, the wife of the Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, attends a press conference in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. A British court has found that the ruler of Dubai conducted a campaign of fear and intimidation against his estranged wife and ordered the abduction of two of his daughters, documents unsealed Thursday, March 5, 2020 show. (AP Photo/Martin Dokoupil, file)

The ruling revealed Princess Haya, who fled to the UK together with her two youngsters in April 2019, had an affair together with her bodyguard © Martin Dokoupil/AP

Within the case of Sheikha Shamsa, Sheikh Mohammed stated in a witness assertion that he had organised a seek for her when she was within the UK. He responded to the allegations concerning the 2018 abduction of Sheikha Latifa by saying he had feared she was being held for ransom, however didn’t contest the small print.

Andrew McFarlane, president of the English Excessive Courtroom’s household division, concluded that each daughters, neither of whom attended the courtroom proceedings, have been nonetheless being “disadvantaged of their liberty, albeit inside household lodging in Dubai”. 

Their experiences are integral to Princess Haya’s case to acquire custody of her personal two youngsters who have been fathered by Sheikh Mohammed. The 45-year-old married the Dubai ruler in 2004 in what many noticed as the proper royal match. The half-sister of Jordan’s King Abdullah, she shares Sheikh Mohammed’s love of horses and was already well-established within the equestrian world in her personal proper — she competed in showjumping on the Sydney Olympics in 2000. 

However by early final 12 months their marriage was on the rocks. The ruling revealed she was having an affair together with her bodyguard. Relations with Sheikh Mohammed turned extra strained when she took a higher curiosity within the circumstances of Sheikhas Shamsa and Latifa. 

Sheikh Mohammed divorced her with out her data beneath sharia legislation in February final 12 months. Princess Haya has described to the courtroom a litany of intimidation towards her — from weapons left on her mattress to nameless threatening letters. 

Sir Andrew stated he discovered “that the cumulative impact of every of those episodes was to position the mom ready of nice worry main her to conclude that she had no possibility however to depart Dubai with the kids”.

The listening to will proceed this month.

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