Coming soon in UK court: A royal battle between Dubai’s ruler and Jordan’s princess with an Indian twist

Princess Haya of Jordan and her estranged husband Sheikh Mohammed, the ruler of Dubai, have moved applications before a UK court for custody of their two children.

Ankiit Koomar
July 25, 2019, India Today

  • A UK court is set to hear a case between Princess Haya of Jordan and her estranged husband Sheikh Mohammed
  • The case will highlight the plight of another Dubai princess who fled but was detained and deported to Dubai
  • Lawyers representing the deported princess believed that India used her as bargaining chip for extradition of fugitives

In an unprecedented turn of events, Princess Haya of Jordan and her estranged husband Sheikh Mohammed, the ruler of Dubai, have moved applications before a UK court for custody of their two children.

The 45-year-old princess, who is the daughter of former Jordanian King Hussein and half-sister of King Abdullah II of Jordan, fled from Dubai to the UK earlier this year.

After weeks of speculations and leaks, a two-day hearing has been fixed in the family division of London High Court. Although the court hearing, scheduled to take place on July 30-31, only concerns the welfare of two children, UK-based activists feel that it would be the first chance for Princess Haya to place herself on record on the issue of alleged detention of Princess Latifa, Sheikh Mohammed’s daughter.

As per reports, the ruler of Dubai has 23 children from his six wives.

According to a UK-based rights group, Detained in Dubai, Princess Latifa had allegedly escaped Dubai before being captured in the Indian Ocean, last year.

Lawyers who were helping Princess Latifa in her bid to escape, later, claimed that the Indian government assisted the UAE in capturing the princess and handing her over to the ruler in Dubai.

The Indian government had denied any such development.

Former minister of state for external affairs VK Singh had told the parliament, earlier this year, that no such extradition took place between two countries.

However, cooperation between India and the UAE witnessed a dramatic improvement as UAE deported underworld mafia Dawood Ibrahim’s key aide Yasin Mansoor Mohamed Farooq, alias Farooq Takla, within a few days of these reports. Farooq Takla was wanted in the 1993 Mumbai blasts and was hiding without a trace for more than two decades.

This was soon followed by the extradition of Christian James Michel, the key middleman in VVIP chopper deal case.

The flurry of deportations from the UAE to India continued with Rajiv Saxena, Deepak Talwar and Jishnu Byju Jaya.

Rajiv Saxena, an accused in a money laundering case, had been running his business in Dubai without any trouble for all these years.

Deepak Talwar is a corporate lobbyist who allegedly got kickbacks through liaisoning between big corporate groups and public officials.

Jishnu Byju Jaya is a little known 24-year-old man from Kerala who was wanted for trespassing and attempt to murder charges.

Detained in Dubai had connected such frequent extraditions to the apparent abduction of Princess Latifa and called it “a political deal between the Prime Minister of India and the Ruler of Dubai”.

UK-based lawyer Radha Stirling now says that she is hopeful that the current case in UK court involving Princess Haya and Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed will give a chance for the world to learn more about Princess Latifa’s situation, who is apparently detained in UAE.

Radha Stirling said in a statement, “The court will have to scrutinise this very carefully, and facts about Latifa’s condition and the entire episode of her escape may come to light.”

Talking about the upcoming case, Stirling added, “It portrays Sheikh Mohammed as an abusive father, and it helps absolve her (Princes Haya) of her own attempts to gloss over Latifa’s story last December.”

Princess Haya reportedly planned her departure for months and finally managed to escape to the UK with her two children. Princess Latifa was last seen with Mary Robinson, a former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and former president of Ireland, in pictures released by the UAE royal family. UK lawyers termed it an orchestrated event.

Princess Haya suffered a severe media backlash after participating in this alleged staged photo-op with Mary Robinson and Princess Latifa.

Local media reported that two heavyweight lawyers have been engaged by both parties. Princess Haya is expected to be represented by Fiona Shackleton, who represented Prince Charles during his divorce from Princess Diana, whereas Sheikh Mohammed is represented by Helen Ward QC, who has previously represented clients such as Andrew Lloyd Webber, Paloma Picasso and Guy Ritchie.