Dubai ruler ordered to pay $ 700 million to ex-wife in divorce settlement

A High Court judge said Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum was to pay £ 251.5million to his UK-based sixth wife, Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein, and make ongoing payments for their children.

A UK court has ordered the ruler of Dubai to pay his ex-wife and their children nearly £ 550million ($ 730million), in one of the costliest divorce settlements in British history.

A High Court judge said Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum was to pay £ 251.5million to his UK-based sixth wife Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein and make ongoing payments for their children Jalila , 14, and Zayed, 9, backed by a £ 290 million guaranteed bank.

The total amount the children receive could be more or less than 290 million pounds, depending on factors such as the length of their life and their reconciliation with their father.

The settlement includes £ 11million a year to cover the cost of securing Princess Haya and the children while they are minors.

In a November ruling released on Tuesday, Judge Philip Moor said the family needed “rock-solid security” and that “absolutely unique” the main threat to them came from Sheikh Mohammed, rather than from sources exterior.

Ms Haya, 47, fled to the UK in 2019 and applied for custody of her two children in UK courts. The princess, who is the daughter of the late King Hussein of Jordan, said she was “terrified” of her husband, who allegedly ordered the forced return to the Gulf emirate of two of his daughters.

The long battle in UK family courts has revealed personal and financial details of the powerful but timid members of the Gulf Royals who are among the richest people in the world. Sheikh Mohammed, 72, is also vice president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates, of which Dubai is a part, and a major horse breeder. Founder of the successful horse racing stable Godolphin, he maintains friendly relations with Queen Elizabeth II.

Haya, a graduate of the University of Oxford, is also an avid horse riding enthusiast and competed in show jumping for Jordan at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

In court evidence, Princess Haya said she paid £ 6.7million to four of her security staff who blackmailed her for his affair with a bodyguard, selling jewelry and taking money in her daughter’s bank account to get the funds.

After learning of the affair, Sheikh Mohammed published a poem entitled “You have lived; You are dead, ”which Princess Haya interpreted as threatening.

Another UK family court judge ruled in October that Sheikh Mohammed authorized the hacking of Princess Haya’s phone during their legal battle.

Judge Andrew McFarlane said the Sheikh had given his “express or implied authority” to hack the phones of the princess and her lawyers using Pegasus spyware produced by NSO Group of Israel, the court said. The software is licensed exclusively to Nation States for use by their security services.

Sheikh Mohammed denied having any knowledge of the hack.

McFarlane had previously ruled that Sheikh Mohammed had waged a campaign of fear and intimidation against his ex-wife and had “ordered and orchestrated” the kidnapping and forcible return to Dubai of two of his adult daughters: Sheikha Shamsa in August 2000 and his sister Sheikha Latifa, in 2002 and again in 2018.

The divorce bill overshadows the £ 450million settlement granted to Tatiana Akhmedova upon her 2016 separation from Russian billionaire Farkhad Akhmedov, at the time cited as Britain’s most expensive divorce.

The settlement includes a vacation budget of £ 5.1million, an annual sum of just over £ 450,000 for the children’s staff and around £ 275,000 for their animals, including two ponies and a horse. Princess Haya was given millions to make up for property lost when she left Dubai, including £ 13.5million for jewelry and what the judge called “the relatively modest sum” of £ 1million for clothing .

It is possible, but rare, for financial settlements in divorce matters to be appealed in England.

A spokesperson for Sheikh Mohammed said in a statement that the ruler “has always made sure that his children are provided for. The court has now rendered its ruling on the finances and it does not intend to comment further. “

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