Kidnapping, hacking and horses: Dubai Royals’ British conservation battle

The Dubai ruler married Princess Haya in 2004 and has two children. (File)


The High Court in London has ruled that the ruler of Dubai’s ex-wife should be solely responsible for their children’s welfare, citing his “domestic abuse” towards her.

The decision marks the end of a three-year tug-of-war between Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum and Jordan’s princess Haya.

Here is a timeline of the main events related to the case, based on statements made by lawyers and findings made in the English courts.

June 2000 – Sheikha Shamsa, daughter of Mohammed and his Algerian wife, Huriah Ahmed al M’aash, flee from her family while on holiday in England. Two months later, she was abducted from the streets of Cambridge and taken back to Dubai.

Mohammed al-Shaibani, director-general of the Dubai Supreme Court, was closely involved, according to one Supreme Court ruling.

April 2004 – Mohammed, the ruler of Dubai and vice-president of the United Arab Emirates, marries Princess Haya bint al-Hussein, half-sister of Jordanian King Abdullah. They also have two children, Jalila and Zayed.

March 4, 2018 – Sheikha Latifa, Shamsa’s younger sister who tried to run away from her family in 2002, is trying to escape again. Armed Indian coastguards board the boat she was on 20 miles off the coast of India in international waters. Those on board are taken to Dubai.

This was her second escape attempt, after being detained for three years after her first failed attempt in 2002.

15 April 2019 – Haya, who at some point entered into a relationship with her British bodyguard in 2017 or 2018, is fleeing Dubai with her two children, after she became scared for her life.

She later discovers that Mohammed divorced her under sharia law on February 7, the 20th anniversary of the death of her father, King Hussein.

Meanwhile, she is paying out £ 6.7 million to four members of her security team who blackmailed her over the matter.

14 May 2019 – Mohammed is taking legal action at the High Court in London to allow the children to return to Dubai.

March 2020 – Following a series of hearings held privately, reporting restrictions are lifted to reveal that senior judge Andrew McFarlane has ruled that he accepts a series of allegations made by Haya as evidence.

This included that Mohammed was responsible for the kidnappings of Shamsa and Latifa, and they were still deprived of their liberty. The judge also concluded that the sheikh had subjected his ex-wife to a campaign of intimidation that had put her in fear for her life.

July 2020 – Agents working for Mohammed exploit a vulnerability in Apple’s iPhone to use the Pegasus software created by Israel’s NSO group to hack the phones of Haya, her British lawyers Fiona Shackleton and Nick Manners, her personal assistant and two of her security team.

5 August 2020 – Shackleton is notified by another attorney that their phones may have been hacked. The same day, Shackleton received an urgent call from human rights lawyer Cherie Blair, an NSO adviser and wife of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, warning her that her phone might have been hacked.

5 May 2021 – McFarlane rules that it was “more likely than not” that the sheikh was responsible for the burglary.

June 2021 – A statement issued by Latifa by lawyers says she is now free to travel, after photos of her were posted on social media abroad and in a shopping mall in Dubai. Two months later, a campaign group working to secure her release from Dubai said they were terminating his job.

October 2021 – McFarlane’s hacking verdict is made public. It is revealed that NSO has canceled its contract with the United Arab Emirates as a result.

He also says those working for Mohammed also tried to buy a mansion next door that overlooks Haya’s estate near the British capital to intimidate her.

London police said they had conducted a five-month investigation into the burglary, but closed it in February due to a lack of “further investigative opportunities”.

21 December 2021 The High Court in London has ordered Mohammed to pay £ 251.5 million to Haya and provide a £ 290 million bank guarantee to settle the custody battle over their children.

March 24, 2022 – McFarlane’s final welfare verdict is published. He says Haya should be solely responsible for the children’s medical care and schooling.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is being published from a syndicated stream.)

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