Parents agree to mediation over children 'imprisoned' in Saudi

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The Independent Online

A wealthy divorced couple locked in a "clash of cultures" with a legal dispute over money and access to their two teenage daughters have agreed to seek advice from mediators.

A wealthy divorced couple locked in a "clash of cultures" with a legal dispute over money and access to their two teenage daughters have agreed to seek advice from mediators.

The decision was reached yesterday by an Arab businessman Abdullah Masry, who lives with the girls in Saudi Arabia, and his former wife, Mona al Khatib, of Wentworth, Surrey, in response to a judge's plea for a "humane solution that will restore to the children their international lifestyle".

Lord Justice Thorpe said in the Court of Appeal that the daughters, aged 16 and 13, who were taken by their father from the family home in London to Jeddah with two of their three older brothers four years ago, were being "imprisoned" in Saudi Arabia because of the war between the parents.

Mr Masry, 56, who has defied orders by the English courts to pay his former wife a record £26.3m divorce settlement and return the girls to the UK, has said he took them to Saudi Arabia because he feared they were forgetting their heritage.

An international arrest warrant on Mr Masry over his alleged contempt of the English court orders will be suspended while he attends mediation proceedings in London. He will fly to the UK with the girls and their two brothers. It was agreed that at the end of the mediation visit the children would return with their father.