Lovelorn poems written by one of the Middle East’s most celebrated if eccentric leaders have prompted reports that his wife has fled the country and sought asylum in Europe.
Princess Haya bint al-Hussein, the second wife of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum of Dubai, is said to have been granted permission to remain in Germany with their son and daughter. She has not been seen in public since the second half of last month and failed to appear with her husband at Royal Ascot this month.
Since she disappeared Sheikh Mohammed, who publishes his verses in book form and online, has written two poems, one in English and one in Arabic, apparently bemoaning her loss but without naming her.
In the poem in English, Affection in Your Eyes, posted on his poetry website, he writes that he has discerned a “fatal arrow” in her eyes, which is driving him insane. “Let the past be; soften your heart/ Forgive my mistakes, and reward my good deeds.”
The Arabic poem, posted on an Instagram account affiliated to him, is more bitter. “You betrayer, you betrayed the most precious trust, and your game has been revealed.”
Princess Haya, 45, is the younger half-sister of King Abdullah II of Jordan, giving her alleged desertion a sensitive international twist. As well as being ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed, 69, is also prime minister of the United Arab Emirates, which is involved in delicate negotiations with Jordan over approaches to the Iran crisis and the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
King Abdullah made a high-profile visit this week to Abu Dhabi, the UAE capital, which some observers have linked to the fate of his sister.
The reports of her disappearance surfaced on dissident Middle East websites focusing on the UAE and Jordan. The authorities in Dubai, the UAE federal government and Germany have refused to discuss them while at the same time failing to deny them.
Princess Haya, who was educated at Oxford University and represented Jordan at the Sydney Olympics in 2000 in show-jumping, married Sheikh Mohammed, who owns Britain’s biggest racing stables, in 2004. She is thought to want to come to Britain.