Dubai’s ruler ordered daughters’ abduction and intimidated ex-wife, UK court rules

Dubai 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 released on Thursday.

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

Shortly after, the 70-year-old sheikh asked for the return of their two children – an eight-year-old son and a 12-year-old daughter – to the Gulf Kingdom.

But Princess Haya, a half-sister of Jordanian king Abdullah II, asked that the children be brought to justice and filed a no-molestation order for herself.

At a hearing in London, she asked a judge to make findings of fact about the abduction and forced detention of two of the sheikh’s adult daughters from a previous marriage.

She also alleged that she had faced a “fear and intimidation campaign” since leaving last year.

Seized and detained

Sheikh Mohammed, owner of the Godolphin horse racing stable, tried to prevent the publication of two of the court decisions.

But the Supreme Court rejected his request Thursday morning, authorizing their publication.

Judge Andrew McFarlane, who heads the family division of the High Court of England and Wales, found that Sheikh Mohammed had “ordered and orchestrated” the abduction of Sheikha Shamsa from the British city of Cambridge at l age of 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 discovered that Shamsa’s sister, Latifa, 35, was seized and returned to Dubai twice, in 2002 and again in 2018.

She was detained “on her father’s instructions” for more than three years after the first escape attempt. His second hit the headlines in March 2018.

The allegations made by a friend of Latifa’s who helped her escape that the Indian special forces boarded a boat off the Indian coast on March 4, 2018 before her return to Dubai have also been proven.

“She was pleading for soldiers to kill her rather than facing the prospect of returning to her family in Dubai,” said McFarlane.

“By bringing these questions together, I conclude, on a balance of probabilities, that Latifa’s account of her motivations for wanting to leave Dubai represents the truth.

“She was clearly desperate to withdraw from her family and was preparing to undertake a dangerous mission to do so.”

Secret divorce

Lawyer Charles Geekie, representing Princess Haya, said in a hearing last November that his client had left anonymous notes threatening the lives of his son and daughter.

She also informed the court of “deliberate threats” and even of a helicopter landing in front of her house when the pilot told her that he had come to take a passenger to a desert prison.

The court was also informed of the divorced sheikh of Princess Haya without her knowledge on February 7, 2019 – the 20th anniversary of the death of his father, King Hussein of Jordan.

Justice McFarlane said it was “clear that the date would have been chosen … to maximize the insult and upset it”.

He agreed with Geekie that events since 2000 show “a number of common themes, at the heart of which is the use of the state and its machinery to threaten, intimidate, abuse and oppress with total disregard for the state by right”.

“I also accept Mr. Geekie’s argument that these conclusions, taken together, demonstrate consistent conduct over two decades where, if he deems it necessary, the father will use the very important powers at his disposal to achieve his goals individuals. “


In a statement after the decisions were released, Sheikh Mohammed firmly denied the allegations and said the case concerned “highly personal and private matters concerning our children”.

He said he appealed to the Supreme Court “to protect the best interests and well-being of children”.

“The result does not protect my children from media attention as to how other children in family proceedings in the UK are protected,” he said, describing the process as biased.

“As head of government, I was unable to participate in the court’s investigation process.”