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Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed has been ordered to pay £550m to his ex-wife Princess Haya

Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed found guilty of abusing his wife, denied responsibility of his children

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The ruler of Dubai abused his sixth wife to such an “exorbitant degree” that he has been denied responsibility for their two children by a judge.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, 72, was criticised by a British judge for his “coercive and controlling behaviour” towards his youngest wife, Princess Haya Bint al Hussein.

In his decision, Sir Andrew McFarlane said the sheikh “consistently displayed coercive and controlling behaviour with respect to those members of his family who he regards as behaving contrary to his will”.

Princess Haya praised her children, calling them the “two bravest souls of all”, after the ruling on Thursday.

She fled the United Arab Emirates in fear of her life three years ago after her husband discovered she was having an affair with her bodyguard.

In December the sheikh was ordered to pay her a record £554m in their divorce settlement.

She will now have sole responsibility for decisions about the schooling and medical care of their daughter, Jalila, 14, and son Zayed, 10.

Co-parenting relationship is ‘bankrupt’

Sir Andrew said his decision to grant her sole responsibility was justified by the “need to reduce the potential for continuing harm to the children” and that the co-parenting relationship was “entirely bankrupt”.

The sheikh chose not to pursue direct contact with his children but is allowed to contact them indirectly, including through phone calls.

After fleeing to London, Princess Haya asked the High Court to make a series of findings about the sheikh, leading to nearly 20 judgments.

FILE PHOTO: Princess Haya bint Al Hussein, the wife of Dubai's Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, arrives at the High Court in London, Britain February 26, 2020. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls/File Photo
Princess Haya praised the bravery of her two children after the ruling

This ruling is expected to be the final significant decision.

The sheikh, a member of the Queen’s racing circle, was previously found to have led a “campaign of fear and intimidation” against his ex-wife, including hacking her phone, and to have orchestrated the abduction of two of his adult daughters.

Sir Andrew said his behaviour towards the princess, a sister of Abdullah II of Jordan, was domestic abuse “conducted on a scale which is entirely outside the ordinary circumstances of cases heard in the family court” in England and Wales.

He said the “sustained” abuse was likely to have had “a profound impact upon every aspect of her day-to-day life and her emotional wellbeing”.

The sheikh joins the Queen in the royal box at Ascot annually

She will now have sole responsibility for decisions about the schooling and medical care of their daughter, Jalila, 14, and son Zayed, 10.

Co-parenting relationship is ‘bankrupt’

Sir Andrew said his decision to grant her sole responsibility was justified by the “need to reduce the potential for continuing harm to the children” and that the co-parenting relationship was “entirely bankrupt”.

The sheikh chose not to pursue direct contact with his children but is allowed to contact them indirectly, including through phone calls.

After fleeing to London, Princess Haya asked the High Court to make a series of findings about the sheikh, leading to nearly 20 judgments.

FILE PHOTO: Princess Haya bint Al Hussein, the wife of Dubai's Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, arrives at the High Court in London, Britain February 26, 2020. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls/File Photo
Princess Haya praised the bravery of her two children after the ruling

This ruling is expected to be the final significant decision.

The sheikh, a member of the Queen’s racing circle, was previously found to have led a “campaign of fear and intimidation” against his ex-wife, including hacking her phone, and to have orchestrated the abduction of two of his adult daughters.

Sir Andrew said his behaviour towards the princess, a sister of Abdullah II of Jordan, was domestic abuse “conducted on a scale which is entirely outside the ordinary circumstances of cases heard in the family court” in England and Wales.

He said the “sustained” abuse was likely to have had “a profound impact upon every aspect of her day-to-day life and her emotional wellbeing”.

The sheikh joins the Queen in the royal box at Ascot annually
The sheikh joins the Queen in the royal box at Ascot annually

“Given his immense power and wealth, the potential for the father, and those in Dubai who do his bidding, to act remorselessly against the interests of the mother has been proved during these proceedings,” he said.

“It will have totally dominated her thoughts, taken away her peace of mind and removed from her any sense of autonomy.”

Sheikh banned from buying Berkshire home

In a previous judgment, Sheikh Mohammed was banned from buying a £30m estate in Berkshire that overlooked the princess’s home.

The High Court also heard that her phone was tapped using Pegasus, a multimillion-pound spyware that is only available to countries.

The phone hacking was described as an “astonishingly intrusive and abusive action” and also targeted members of her security and legal teams – including Baroness Shackleton, her lawyer and a Conservative peer.

Sir Andrew said that “in no respect has His Highness accepted that any of this behaviour has either taken place or that he has had any part in orchestrating it”.

Sheikh maintains his denial of allegations

After the ruling, Sheikh Mohammed said he “loves his children and cherishes their love for him”.

“He has always cared and provided for them, and always will,” the statement said. “He maintains his denial of the allegations made in these contentious proceedings.”

FILE PHOTO: Prime Minister and Vice-President of the United Arab Emirates and ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum attends the Global Women's Forum in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, February 16, 2020. REUTERS/Christopher Pike/File Photo/File Photo
A British court previously ruled that the sheikh had kidnapped two of his adult daughters

In her first comments about the dispute, Princess Haya said that she and her children “are not pawns to be used for division”.

“There are no words, no words at all, to describe the love, respect, admiration and pride I have for the two bravest souls of all, Jalila and Zayed,” she said.

“They have met every hardship and challenge with dignity, faith and a renewed resolve to be kinder and more humble people, determined to love, serve, and contribute to a better world.”

About Charles Igbinidu

Charles Igbinidu is a Public Relations practitioner in Lagos, Nigeria

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