Dubai ruler abducted and imprisoned his princess daughters, UK court rules

Kim Hjelmgaard
March 6, 2020, USA TODAY

The billionaire ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, orchestrated the abductions, torture and imprisonment of two of his princess daughters, according to documents unsealed this week by a British judge. 

High Court Judge Andrew McFarlane’s ruling was part of a “fact-finding” judgment connected to a separate ongoing child custody case between Sheikh Mohammed and his estranged ex-wife, Princess Haya Bint Al-Hussein. 

Dubai’s leader, 70, launched legal action in Britain in May last year against Princess Haya, 45, seeking the return of their two small children to Dubai. Princess Haya, who is the daughter of the late King Hussein of Jordan, is Sheikh Mohammed’s sixth wife. She wants their children, 12 and 8, to stay in Britain, where she was educated and has close ties, over fears they could be harmed if returned to Dubai. Princess Haya’s lawyers argued Sheikh Mohammed’s treatment of his two older daughters showed her children were at risk of being abducted too.

The ruling does not amount to a criminal charge.

Instead, Thursday’s ruling relates to events surrounding the disappearances of two of Sheikh Mohammed’s daughters from a previous marriage: Princess Shamsa, who vanished from the streets of Cambridge in 2000, when she was 19; and Princess Latifa, who planned her escape from Dubai’s ruling family for seven years, running away from what she said was her father’s oppressive and cruel treatment.

Princess Latifa was seized by Indian army commandos in 2018 in the Indian Ocean and returned to Dubai, when she was 32. She sought to flee the city-state on a private sailing yacht captained by a former French intelligence officer.