Politics

Dubai ruler must pay $A1 billion to wife


The ruler of Dubai has been ordered to pay around STG550 million ($A1 billion) to his former wife and their two children in what is thought to be the largest award of its kind ordered by an English court.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, 72, will now have to pay STG251.5 million to his sixth wife Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein, 47, as well as making ongoing payments for their children Al Jalila, 14, and Zayed, nine.

In a ruling published on Tuesday, Mr Justice Moor said the further payments are underpinned by a bank guarantee of STG290 million to cover the children’s maintenance and security as adults.

However, the total amount they receive could be more or less depending on several factors, including how long they live or if they reconcile with their father.

The award comes after Princess Haya, the half-sister of King Abdullah II of Jordan, fled the United Arab Emirates for England in early 2019 with her two children, claiming she was “terrified” of her husband.

The total award is believed to be the largest ever ordered by an English court following a divorce, surpassing the approximately STG450 million awarded to Russian native Tatiana Akhmedova in 2016.

The High Court heard Princess Haya had not asked for an award for herself except for her lifetime security and to compensate her for property lost due to the end of the marriage.

As part of the financial ruling, Mr Justice Moor ordered Sheikh Mohammed to pay STG11 million a year for Princess Haya and her two children’s security costs while they are under-age.

The children will also be entitled to a STG3 million education fund.

Once both children have finished university, Princess Haya will then receive a security budget of STG5.5 million per year for the rest of her life – with both children then receiving similar sums.

The multimillion-pound security budget comes after Sir Andrew McFarlane – the most senior family judge in England and Wales – found that Sheikh Mohammed had authorised the hacking of Princess Haya’s phone during their legal battle.

In a series of judgments in October, Sir Andrew found that the ruler gave his “express or implied authority” for Princess Haya and her lawyers’ phones to be infiltrated with the Pegasus spyware.

Sheikh Mohammed denied any knowledge of the hacking.

In another judgment published last year, Sir Andrew ruled that Sheikh Mohammed had “ordered and orchestrated” the abduction and forced return to Dubai of two of his adult daughters: Sheikha Shamsa, in August 2000 and her sister Sheikha Latifa, in 2002 and again in 2018.

Ruling on Princess Haya and her two children’s security costs, Mr Justice Moor said: “Given their status and the general threats of terrorism and kidnap faced in such circumstances, they are particularly vulnerable and need water-tight security to ensure their continued safety and security in this country.

“Most importantly in this regard, and absolutely uniquely, the main threat they face is from (Sheikh Mohammed) himself, not from outside sources.”

The judge continued: “There will remain a clear and ever-present risk to (Princess Haya) for the remainder of her life, whether it be from (Sheikh Mohammed) or just from the normal terrorist and other threats faced by a princess in her position.”

The High Court also heard that Princess Haya alleged she had been blackmailed by four of her security staff, which led to her paying the men STG6.7 million.

Mr Justice Moor said: “This was clearly a most unsatisfactory episode. I realise I have not heard from the alleged blackmailers but nobody should be blackmailed and (Princess Haya) must have been very frightened at this point.”

As part of the order for the two children’s maintenance, the judge also awarded a holiday budget of STG5.1 million, an annual sum of just over STG450,000 for the children’s staff and around STG275,000 for their animals.



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