PRINCESS Haya – the wife of Dubai’s ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum – has launched a case at London’s High Court in a bid to secure asylum after apparently fleeing her home country in fear of her life.
The Princess – who married Sheikh Mohammed, one of the world’s richest men, in 2004 – was initially thought to be in Germany, Radha Stirling, of human rights group Detained In Dubai, said last week. However, she is now believed to be in London, where she owns an £85million house near Kensington Palace. Princess Haya, 45, the half-sister of the King of Jordan, was privately educated in the UK and attended Oxford University, studying Politics, Philosophy and Economics (PPE).
She is “concerned about her personal safety” with requests having been made “through private Dubai channels” seeking her return to the United Arab Emirates, and the Foreign Office regarding the matter as a “private dispute”, The Guardian has reported.
Meanwhile, Sheikh Mohammed himself made his anger at the disappearance of his wife plain in a threatening poem posted online.
Princess Haya’s disappearance follows a similar situation involving the Sheikh’s daughter, Princess Latifa, 33, who fled Dubai last year seeking asylum, accusing her father of abuse.
Princess Latifa was subsequently seized off the coast of India by commandos and returned to Dubai.
In December, she was pictured alongside former President of Ireland Mary Robinson in what was widely claimed to be a publicity stunt, with observers suggesting she was being held against her will.
Ms Stirling said: “When Sheikha Latifa called me in early 2018, she wanted us to help her seek asylum. When she was dragged from the yacht Nostromo by UAE Special Forces in the Indian Ocean a few days later, she was screaming for asylum; saying that she would rather die than be returned to the UAE.
“Several months later, Latifa appeared in a highly orchestrated photo op alongside Mary Robinson and Princess Haya, looking dazed and sedated, and she has not been heard from since.
“So, I have no doubt that Princess Haya has every reason to fear the consequences if she were to be sent back to Dubai.
“She surely knows, as Latifa knew, that asylum provides her the only safe route out of the royal palace.
“The bias and discrimination women in the Gulf generally suffer is only amplified when they are members of the ruling family and come into conflict with the men in their lives, because they have even less recourse than an average woman.
“The UAE is a male-dominated society, and Princess Haya’s husband, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, wields absolute power over Dubai.
“If she was abused, she could not go to the police; if she wanted a divorce, she could not go to the courts.
“Just as Latifa allegedly suffered indescribable abuse at the hands of Sheikh Mohammed, and had no option but to escape, Haya apparently found herself in a similar situation. Fortunately for her, she was able to get away.”
However, Ms Stirling added: “We owe it to Princess Haya to support her bid for asylum, and she owes it to Latifa and all the women of the UAE, to speak out against the abuses of the men in power in that country, and the system over which they preside that disempowers and suppresses the female population.”
The six-times married Sheikh has been Vice-President and Prime Minister since his brother’s death in 2006.
He has 23 children – nine sons and 14 daughters – by several different wives.
Express.co.uk has contacted the UAE embassy in London for comment on the situation.