- Frank Gardner
- BBC Security Correspondent
It is considered the biggest divorce in British legal history: a settlement worth more than £500 million ($663 million) involving the billionaire Emir of Dubai and his ex-wife.
UK Supreme Court awards Princess Haya Bint Al-Hussain a lump sum payment totaling £251.5 million (over US$300 million).
Haya is the youngest of the Sheikh’s six wives Mohammad Bin Rashid Al-Maktoumthe powerful ruler of Dubai, Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and influential horse racing owner.
The 47-year-old princess is the daughter of the late King Hussein I of Jordan and the half-sister of the current King Abdullah II.
The sentence also awards Princess Haya other sums to cover the costs of administering two properties in the UK: one next to Kensington Palace in London, and another which is her main residence in Egham, in the Surrey, in the south east of England.
A “security budget” is also planned, as well as holidays, salaries and accommodation for a nurse and a babysitter or nanny, armored vehicles for the family and the payment of travel expenses. keeping several ponies and pets.
In addition, guaranteed payments of £5.6 million ($7.41 million) per year have been granted for each of their children: a 14-year-old girl and a 9-year-old boy, who will be insured with a guarantee of 290 million (384 million US dollars).
“Fear for your life”
This long legal battle has brought the normally closed world of Middle Eastern royal families into the spotlight.
Princess Haya fled Dubai for the UK with her children in 2019 saying she feared for her life, after discovering her husband Sheikh had kidnapped two of his own daughters, Sheikha Latifa and Sheikha Shamsa, and sent them back to Dubai, against their will.
Sheikh Mohammed, 72, who is also a hugely influential figure in the world of horse racing, has denied the kidnappings, despite a 2020 UK High Court ruling that in all likelihood they happened.
the sheikh posted a poem called “You lived, you died”who many interpreted as a threat to the princess after finding out she was having an affair with her bodyguard, a former member of the British Army.
Princess Haya continued to receive threats after moving to the UK, with messages saying “we can contact you anywhere”. Since then, she has spent large sums of money on security, fearing her children will be kidnapped and sent back to Dubai.
The High Court ruled this year that Sheikh Mohammed unlawfully hacked into the mobile phones of Princess Haya, her bodyguards and her legal team, which includes Conservative Baroness Fiona Shackleton.
The hack was allegedly carried out using spyware called Pegasuswhich infects specific phones and was produced by the Israeli company NSO Group.
Sheikh Mohammed said he did not have any hacked material from the phone in his possession and no surveillance was carried out with his express or implied permission.
However, the President of the Family Division of the UK Supreme Court concluded otherwise.
In the divorce judgment, Judge Moor ruled that, given previous convictions, the Princess and her two children were persons. particularly vulnerable.
He said they needed high security to ensure their continued protection in the UK.
The main threat they faced came not from outside sources, the judge established, but from their father (of the miners), a man who had access to all the power of the state.
“There are clear and omnipresent risk for those children who are almost certain to persist until they achieve independence,” the judge said. As for Princess Haya, he added: “There will continue to be a clear and ever-present risk for the rest of her life, whether from Sheikh Mohammed or from terrorism and other threats.”
The court was alerted to a security assessment which rated the risk to Princess Haya and her children as “severe”. Subsequently, the judge awarded funds to cover the cost of armored vehicles for the family.
The High Court judge said he had done his best to reach a reasonable conclusion, given “the exceptional wealth and remarkable standard of living enjoyed by these children during the marriage”.
He added that the matter was “completely out of the ordinary”.
Princess Haya’s lawyers have insisted she is not making any claims for her own future needs. However, she was criticized in court hearings for her lavish spending.
For example, her son, who was only 9 years old, received three expensive cars because “he was used” to such gifts. This, according to the judge, is a valid criticism.
The sentence includes evidence provided by the Princess that members of her security staff hea they blackmailed for an affair he had with one of them.
He made several payments to four of these staff members, some of which came from his children’s bank accounts. To correct this, he said he had sold jewelry worth more than £1 million ($1.3 million) and had since had to sell more.
Sheikh Mohammed of Dubai said the relics that were given to his ex-wife would be returned to him. Among them are ballet slippers given to her by world-renowned dancers Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev.
He also said he deleted the poem attributed to him on the internet and that the princess perceived it as a threat to her life.
He says he had no intention of hurting the princess.
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