Dubai’s Princess Haya wins record £554m divorce settlement

Princess Haya and Sheikh Mohammed’s High Court battle has revealed details of blackmail by her bodyguard lover

David Brown, The Times
December 21, 2021

The ruler of Dubai has been ordered to pay his youngest wife and their two children a record £554 million settlement after a bitter divorce.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, 72, was found to pose a serious security risk to his former wife Princess Haya Bint al-Hussein, 47, the sister of King Abdullah II of Jordan. She fled to London in fear for her life in 2019 with their two children — Jalila, now 14, and Zayed, nine — after her husband discovered she was having an affair with her male bodyguard.

It emerged today that the princess was blackmailed for £6.7 million by her lover, a married former British soldier employed as her close protection officer, and other members of her security team who threatened to reveal the affair.

Mr Justice Moor, sitting in the family division of the High Court in London, condemned the blackmailers after hearing details about their actions during the divorce case. “It sticks in the throat that these people have been able to get away with this and have not been prosecuted,” he said.

Haya was first blackmailed in February 2018 by a former member of her security team who was bringing an unfair dismissal claim, according to a judgment made public today.

The sister of King Abdullah II of Jordan took £1.2 million from the bank account of her then ten-year-old daughter, Jalila, to pay the blackmailer. Five months later she took a further £4.45 million from her daughter’s account to pay two other blackmailers from her security team: Mr B and Mr C.

The princess said: “I was scared and that was the money available in that account.”

Haya was then blackmailed by her lover, identified as Mr D, and paid him £1.2 million from her own account.

Mr Justice Moor said: “These individuals had blackmailed HRH [Haya] over an affair she had with one of these four people.” He added: “This was clearly a most unsatisfactory episode. I realise I have not heard from the alleged blackmailers but nobody should be blackmailed and HRH must have been very frightened at this point.”

Haya, the youngest of Mohammed’s six wives, fled Dubai to London in 2019 in fear of her life after her husband discovered her adultery. Mohammed, a member of the Queen’s racing circle, was found by the High Court to pose a serious security risk to Haya and their two children, Jalila, now 14, and Zayed, nine.

The princess, who is first secretary at the Jordanian embassy in London, told the court that she was “hunted and harassed” by her powerful former husband and the risk from Dubai would continue even after he died.

Mohammed said that he had no intention of harming Haya, despite an earlier High Court ruling that he abducted two of his adult daughters — Princess Latifa and Princess Shamsa — because they attempted to escape his control. The court had also ruled that Mohammed was responsible for hacking the mobile phones of Haya and her lawyers, including the Tory peer Baroness Shackleton of Belgravia.

The mobile phones of Princess Haya and her lawyer, Baroness Shackleton of Belgravia, were hacked on the orders of the sheikh, a court ruled in October

Legal bills in the Dubai case have totalled more than £140 million; Haya has spent more than £70 million and the sheikh’s costs are estimated to be even higher.

Calculations of the divorce settlement surpasses the British record of £453 million which the Russian businessman Farkhad Akhmedov, 66, was ordered to pay his ex-wife, Tatiana, 49, before a £135 million deal was agreed.

Haya did not want a share of her husband’s wealth for herself but initially sought £1.4 billion of maintenance for their two children, their security costs and compensation for assets he had seized.

Dalham Hall in Suffolk, a 17th-century manor house previously owned by Cecil Rhodes, is among the British properties owned by Mohammed

The judge ordered Mohammed to provide a £290 million bank guarantee and a backdated £10 million payment to provide lifetime security for the princess and for their children until they complete their education.

He also told the sheikh to pay the princess a lump sum of £251 million for child maintenance and to compensate her for the loss of jewellery and haute couture clothing she left at the Beach Palace in Dubai and a further £3 million for the children’s private education.

Haya had demanded £75 million compensation from Mohammed, accusing him of seizing 62 of her racehorses and 21 showjumpers.

The princess said that more than 400 horses had run under her name, including the 2008 Epsom Derby winner New Approach, but some had been transferred without her consent into the name of the sheikh’s celebrated Godolphin stable in Newmarket, Suffolk.

The sheikh and princess celebrate winning the 2008 Epsom Derby with Kevin Manning on New Approach

Mohammed, 72, said that Haya owned no racehorses and although some ran in her colours and were registered in her name, they were at all times owned and financed by Godolphin. He said the nomination to family members to permit his horses to run in their colours was merely “a licence”.

The judge said: “The racehorses were clearly not owned by HRH [Haya]. They were simply run in her colours. I am sure that gave her great pleasure but it is obvious that the horses were part of Godolphin.”

He ruled that the princess, a former president of the International Equestrian Federation who had served on the International Olympic Committee, should receive £5 million from her former husband to buy a “few reasonable horses” and run a “small operation” for several years.