Dubai ruler ordered to pay record divorce settlement of £554m by UK court

Payment is to protect Princess Haya and her two children from the sheikh, court says

Jess Glass
Tuesday 21 December 2021 16:37
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<p>Sheikh Mohammed and Princess Haya have faced several rounds of High Court hearings following their divorce</p>

Sheikh Mohammed and Princess Haya have faced several rounds of High Court hearings following their divorce

Dubai’s ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, has been ordered by the High Court in London to provide a British record sum of more than £554m ($733m) to settle a custody battle with his ex-wife over their two children.

The bulk of the massive award to Princess Haya bint al-Hussein, half-sister of Jordan’s King Abdullah, and the couple’s two children, is to ensure their lifetime security, not least to address the “grave risk” posed to them by the sheikh himself, judge Philip Moor said on Tuesday.

The judge said: “She is not asking for an award for herself other than for security” and to compensate her for the possessions she lost as a result of the marital breakdown.

Mr Moor directed the sheikh to make a one-off payment of £251.5m within three months to Haya for the upkeep of her British mansions, to cover the money she said she was owed for jewellery and racehorses, and for her future security costs.

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 £450m awarded to Russian native Tatiana Akhmedova in 2016.

As part of the financial ruling, Mr Justice Moor ordered Sheikh Mohammed to pay £11m 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 £3m education fund.

Once both children have finished university, Princess Haya will then receive a security budget of £5.5m 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 £6.7m.

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 £5.1m, an annual sum of just over £450,000 for the children’s staff and around £275,000 for their animals.

Additional reporting by PA

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