Dubai ruler had daughters abducted, UK court rules

Published March 6, 2020
In this file photo taken on December 10, 2019, Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, and ruler of the Emirate of Dubai, attends a session of the 40th Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit held at the Saudi capital Riyadh. — AFP
In this file photo taken on December 10, 2019, Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, and ruler of the Emirate of Dubai, attends a session of the 40th Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit held at the Saudi capital Riyadh. — AFP

LONDON: Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum ordered the abduction of two of his daughters and subjected his former wife to a “campaign of fear and intimidation”, forcing her to flee to London with their two children, according to a British court ruling made public on Thursday.

Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein, 45, fled the United Arab Emirates last April having become “terrified” of her husband, who is also the vice-president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates.

Soon afterwards, the 70-year-old sheikh applied for their two children — a son aged eight and a 12-year-old daughter — to be returned to the Gulf kingdom.

But Princess Haya, a half-sister of Jordan’s King Abdullah II, applied for the children to be made wards of court and filed a non-molestation order for herself.

She asked during a London hearing for a judge to make findings of fact about the kidnapping and forced detention of two of the sheikh’s adult daughters from a previous marriage.

Sheikh Mohammed, who owns the Godolphin horse racing stable, tried to prevent two of the court rulings being made public.

But the Supreme Court rejected his application on Thursday morning, allowing them to be published.

Judge Andrew McFarlane, who heads the Family Division of the High Court of England and Wales, found Sheikh Mohammed “ordered and orchestrated” the abduction of Sheikha Shamsa from the UK city of Cambridge when she was 19 in August 2000.

She was forcibly returned to Dubai and “has been deprived of her liberty for much, if not all, of the past two decades”, he said.

He also found Shamsa’s sister, Latifa, 35, was seized and returned to Dubai twice, in 2002 and again in 2018.

She was held “on the instructions of her father” for more than three years after the first attempted escape. Her second made global headlines in March 2018.

Claims by a friend of Latifa who helped her escape that Indian special forces boarded a boat off the Indian coast on March 4, 2018 before she was returned to Dubai were also found to be proven.

The court was also told the sheikh divorced Princess Haya without her knowledge on Feb 7, 2019 — the 20th anniversary of the death of her father king Hussein of Jordan.

Judge McFarlane said it was “clear the date will have been chosen ... to maximise insult and upset her”.

In a statement after the publication of the rulings, Sheikh Mohammed strongly denied the claims and said the case involved “highly personal and private matters relating to our children”.

Published in Dawn, March 6th, 2020

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