LONDON – The sixth wife of Dubai’s billionaire ruler is in hiding in London as she prepares for a court battle with her husband, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, in a case that appears to be connected to the mysterious disappearance of Princess Latifa, Sheikh Mohammed’s daughter from another marriage, according to British media reports.
Princess Haya Bint al-Hussein, 45, fled Dubai for Europe last month after she became aware of details related to the forced return of Princess Latifa to the Middle Eastern state after she was intercepted by commandoes last year on a U.S.-flagged civilian yacht off the coast of India. Her case has been highlighted by USA TODAY.
Oxford University-educated Princess Haya, a glamorous figure who served on the International Olympic Committee and as a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations’ World Food Program, is thought to be hiding in a townhouse in central London over fears for her life, according to British broadcaster the BBC, citing Dubai royal family sources.
Other British media outlets have also reported on the claim.
Sheikh Mohammed, 69, has filed an application for divorce and custody of the pair’s two children, ages 11 and 7. A hearing will take place on July 30 in Britain’s Royal Court of Justice, the court confirmed to USA TODAY. Sheikh Mohammed has an estimated wealth of $4 billion, according to Forbes, making him one of richest royals in the world.
He is a major figure in international horse racing and breeding and owns and operates two horse racing farms in Kentucky. He’s been Dubai’s leader since 2006. Sheikh Mohammed has an estimated 30 children with his six wives.
Unnamed sources close to Princess Haya told the BBC that she had discovered “disturbing” facts about Princess Latifa’s attempt to flee Dubai and was subject to increasing hostility and pressure from members of Sheikh Mohammed’s extended family. The broadcaster said she no longer felt safe, and fled to Germany before moving on to Britain.
Officials from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in London have refused to comment on the case.
Princess Haya was previously criticized by human rights groups after she invited former Irish president Mary Robinson, an ex-United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, to visit Dubai and affirm that Princess Latifa was being treated well.
In a video uploaded to YouTube in March, released after her disappearance, Princess Latifa said she had 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.
Dubai has world-class infrastructure, luxury shopping malls, a skyscraper-filled skyline and a large expatriate popu