Dubai’s Runaway Princess Wins Her Case

Vanessa Grigoriadis
March 6, 2020, Vanity Fair

She testified that about a threat to whisk her away to a desert prison, and a loaded gun on the bed. But the possibility of an arranged marriage of her 11-year-old daughter to MBS was only “hearsay,” said the judge.

Over the past few months, Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum has been involved in a high-profile legal case with his ex-wife Princess Haya. Haya discovered Sheikh Mohammed divorced her under Shariah law in February 2019. Shortly after, she left Dubai with their two children last year without the sheikh’s permission, it’s thought. He wanted the children returned from London to Dubai. The Princess’s lawyer argued that Sheikh Mohammed used his authority as Dubai’s head to “threaten, intimidate, mistreat and oppress.”

Today, Sheikh Mohammed lost that case; the children will be allowed to remain abroad.

The court also revealed today that one of the reasons the princess feared for her and her family’s safety was that, before she escaped, she on two occasions found a gun on the bed, with the muzzle pointing toward the door, the safety catch off. Haya also said that a helicopter once landed outside her house and there was a threat to remove her to a remote desert prison. She believes that if her son hadn’t been clinging to her leg, the men would have taken her. The judge declared that there was a “consistent course of conduct over two decades where, if he deems it necessary to do so, the father will use the very substantial powers at his disposal to achieve his particular aims.”

“As a head of government, I was not able to participate in the court’s fact-finding process, this has resulted in the release of a ‘fact-finding’ judgment which inevitably tells only one side of the story,” the Sheikh said in a statement via his lawyers.

The court also said that the Sheikh was aware of an earlier affair that the princess had with one of her bodyguards. But the court called Haya’s statement that Sheikh Mohammed was interested in arranging a marriage between her teenage daughter, then 11, and the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud (MBS), only “hearsay.”

For more about Haya’s story, read Vanessa Grigoriadis’s feature story here.