Princess Haya, the polished princess whose affair brought a storm of abuse

David Brown
March 6, 2020, The Times

Princess Haya once personified the image of Dubai as an oasis of tolerance in a desert ruled by tribal conservatism.

The marriage of the Jordanian princess to Dubai’s powerful ruler cemented connections between the royal families and led to her international role with the United Nations.

After 15 years travelling the world selling the idealised image of the city state on the shores of the Gulf she has been forced into exile in London after betraying the strict rules beneath the veneer of western values.

Princess Haya, 45, the half-sister of King Abdullah of Jordan, was educated at Bryanston School in Dorset and St Hilda’s College, Oxford where she read philosophy, politics and economics. She represented Jordan in showjumping at the Sydney Olympics in 2000.

She became the sixth and youngest wife of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, who is 25 years her senior, in 2004.

They had a daughter, Jalila, now 12, and a son, Zayed, seven. Even though they had not “enjoyed an intimate relationship with each other for a significant period of time” they remained on good terms, the family division of the High Court in London was told.

Sheikh Mohammed had apparently known for some time that the princess was having an affair with one of her bodyguards, but the first sign of his displeasure was a poem he wrote in December 2018.

Entitled The morality of a knight, it warned: “If my friend transgresses, I forgive once but if he repeats the offence, I ensure his regret . . . I was repelled by your great wrongdoing.”

From then on the princess experienced a “progressively more hostile climate”.