AFP — The ruler of Dubai abused his ex-wife on an extraordinary scale, a UK judge ruled on Thursday, ending a lengthy legal battle between the couple over their two children.
The abuse by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, 72, of Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein, 47, was “conducted on a scale which is entirely outside the ordinary circumstances of cases heard in the family court in this jurisdiction”, judge Andrew McFarlane said.
The sheikh “consistently displayed coercive and controlling behaviour with respect to those members of his family who he regards as behaving contrary to his will,” he added in a ruling at London’s High Court.
Princess Haya will now have sole responsibility for their two children, daughter Jalila, 14, and son Zayed, 10, with regards to their medical care and schooling.
“The decision to afford the mother sole responsibility for these important matters is justified by the need to reduce the potential for continuing harm to the children,” McFarlane said.
Sheikh Mohammed, who is also the vice-president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates, is allowed to contact their children indirectly, such as through phone calls.
His behaviour towards his ex-wife through “threats, poems, coordinating press reports, covertly arranging to purchase property immediately overlooking hers, phone-hacking or in the conduct of this litigation, has been abusive to a high, indeed exorbitant, degree,” the judge ruled.
Princess Haya studied at the University of Oxford and represented Jordan at the 2000 Sydney Olympics as a show jumper.
The couple married in 2004 in Sheikh Mohammed’s second official marriage. He divorced her under Sharia law in 2019 without her knowledge.
She and her children live in a London house near Kensington Palace and on an estate west of the capital that she inherited from her father, the late king Hussein of Jordan.
The High Court ruled in 2020 that the sheikh had submitted her to a “campaign of fear and intimidation”, forcing her to flee to London.
In December, he was ordered to pay his ex-wife and children around £550 million ($725 million) in what is thought to be the highest divorce settlement set by an English court.
The sheikh, who operates stables in Britain and other countries, has had a close relationship with Queen Elizabeth II, sharing her love of horse racing.
Princess Haya said in a statement after the ruling that the “last few years have been a frightening journey” and thanked the court.
A representative for the sheikh said he “maintains his denial of the allegations made in these contentious proceedings”.