London, Haya of Jordan and the Sheikh of Dubai, divorce worth 650 million euros: the scandal that touches the Crown

from Elisa Messina

The High Court ordered Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, a friend of Queen Elizabeth, to pay the ex-wife, sister of the King of Jordan and defended by Prince Charles’s lawyer

The High Court of London, in a ruling made known today, has ordered the Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, 72, lord of Dubai, prime minister and vice president of the United Arab Emirates, of shell out the record figure of 554 million of pounds (650 million euros) to close the legal battle with his ex-wife, Princess Haya
, 48, half-sister of King Abdullah of Jordan, on the custody of the two children. This is the most expensive divorce agreement never signed anywhere in the UK. But there is much more: this sentence would like to be the judicial epilogue (but the last word is not said given the weight of the characters at stake) of a story that began in 2019 with the sensational escape of Haya (one of the six wives of the Sheikh) with his two sons from Dubai and then became a diplomatic case involving three countries, United Arab Emirates, Great Britain and Jordan and also creates embarrassments at Buckingham Palace, given that the sheikh is a personal friend of Queen Elizabeth with whom he shares the passion for horse racing (an Ascott tournament was not missed before 2019).

The “threatening” poems of the sheikh

Haya’s escape had been at the center of international news in the summer of 2019. With a private jet she had landed in Germany taking with her, in addition to her children who were 11 and 7 at the time, also a suitcase with 39 million dollars. Then silence. After a few days the princess had reappeared in public in London, alongside one of the most aggressive lawyers in England, L
to Baroness Shackleton
, the one who defended Prince Charles in the divorce with Diana, to ask for the intervention of the British Justice in defense of his children: if al-Maktoun had managed to kidnap his children to bring their eldest daughter Jalila back to Dubai he risked a forced marriage. A concrete perspective. The sheikh, who delights in composing verses, had responded indirectly by publishing some new poems quite threatening on his Instagram profile: “Some mistakes are defined as treason and you have transgressed and betrayed”, began the poem, published after the arrival of Haya in Germany. The sheikh then continues: «Your time of lying is over and it doesn’t matter what we were, nor what you are. I don’t care if you live or die. ‘ In another poem published a few days later he spoke of “sharp swords ready to strike.” In those days of threats and tension (including diplomatic), from the court of Amman, the king of Jordan had responded, just as indirectly to al-Maktoum, by publishing a photo of himself with his sister Haya on social media.

251 million for homes and supplies

A long and delicate legal battle began to which the High Court has today put another point by formalizing figures and requests. Judge Philip Moor claims the princess “doesn’t ask for anything for herself outside of safety.” The compensation would also compensate for the losses resulting from the divorce. The Court asks the Sheikh to pay £ 251 million over the next three months, for the maintenance of British residences where Haya lives with her children, for their livelihood in the near future and as compensation for the loss of jewelry and racehorses (Haya is a former riding champion). But above all to cover the very high costs of the security necessary to protect the princess and her two children Jalila (14 years old) and Zayed (9). Protect them from what? first and foremost from the powerful father and ex-husband ready to do anything to get his children back in Dubai. The court therefore recognized the real risk of kidnapping and security in general for women and children : «A clear and ever present risk» writes the judge in his 73-page sentence.

Cyber-espionage

Already last autumn, an English judge had declared that the sheikh was illegally intercepting his ex-wife: the sheikh’s agents had seized 24 hours of conversation and 500 photos from emails and whatsapp messages) using the infamous Pegasus software, the one developed by the Nso, an Israeli cyber intelligence agency to which authoritarian regimes turn to spy on dissidents. Cherie Blair, the wife of the former British premier who was a legal advisor to the Nso group. The British judiciary has since established an exclusion zone around the building where Haya lives and also a ban on overflight. In short, this is a story in which every detail makes news.

The sheikh does not want to pay

Three million, according to what was established by the sentence, would be needed for the schools of Jalila and Zayed plus a tens of millions of arrears. The overall disbursement established by the court (which the sheikh has already said he does not want to subscribe to) is less than half of what Princess Haya had asked for in turning to British justice after fleeing from the Emirates in 2019
.

Blackmail and the bodyguard

In the course of the London court proceedings, the sheikh saw himself display embarrassing details on his private life and on some of his recent actions (such as spying on his ex-wife). The sheikh’s attorney, Nigel Dyer, had spoken in court of excessive demands. Among other things, accusing the princess of having misused the money destined for the education of the children. He allegedly spent nearly £ 7 million to silence those who threatened to reveal his romance with British bodyguard Russell Flowers (possibly the real reason for the divorce). A story that the court, however, judged irrelevant. Haya admitted that she took that money from the children’s account because she was terrified of blackmailers. More money from the same account had also been used to purchase racehorses, and another large sum was sent by Haya to his brother, the King of Jordan, to help finance the royal palace in Jordan.

He already kidnapped his daughter Shamsa in 2000

To understand the current decisions of the High Court against al-Maktoum and the clear statements on how much he, powerful and unscrupulous, represents a “real security risk for his ex-wife” we must remember that in 2000 the sheikh himself had kidnapped , through the streets of Cambridge, his daughter Shamsa, then 18 years old, one of the daughters had by one of the six wives, to bring her back to Dubai. Shamsa has not been seen in public since, and she and her sister Latifa, who have even arrived at the United Nations building, are reportedly kept segregated in Dubai. In 2019, at the beginning of Princess Haya’s legal battle against the Sheikh, the High Court had raised the case of the kidnapping of Shamsa, criticizing the lack of cooperation of the British Foreign Ministry (when Tony Blair was the head of the government. ).


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