Sheikh attends horse auction but not court hearing over his children

October 9, 2019, The Times

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum with his estranged wife, Princess Haya bint al-Hussein, in 2017

The ruler of Dubai attended a sale of race horses yesterday but not the court hearing about his two children (writes David Brown).

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum was pictured at Tattersalls auctions while his estranged wife, Princess Haya bint al-Hussein, appeared at the family division of the High Court in London.

The sheikh, 70, was represented in court by Lord Pannick, QC, who acted for Gina Miller in her defeat of the government that led to Boris Johnson reappearing before a reconvened parliament debate about Brexit.

Princess Haya, 45, the youngest wife of the multi-billionaire ruler of Dubai, has applied to a British court to protect one of her children by granting a forced marriage protection order. The sister of King Abdullah II of Jordan fled to Britain in May with her two children reportedly “in fear of her life”. She is challenging an application by her husband for the “summary return” of their children to the United Arab Emirates.

The Times revealed in July that the British-educated princess claimed to be in “fear of her life” and believes that her husband will attempt to arrange for her to be “rendered” to Dubai after he is said to have posted a poem on Instagram accusing an unidentified woman of “treachery and betrayal”. It is alleged that she fled the country after her husband became “concerned at her apparent closeness to her British bodyguard.”

The princess is seeking a non-molestation order, a process sometimes used to protect someone who claims they have been subjected to domestic violence. There is no suggestion that this case involves domestic violence.

The couple’s children are living with their mother in her £85 million home in west London.

Sir Andrew McFarlane, president of the family division, adjourned the case for a preliminary further hearing on October 31. A week-long hearing is scheduled to start on November 11.

Sheikh al-Maktoum is the founder of the Godolphin horseracing operation and has an estate in Newmarket, Cambridgeshire. He is one of the UK’s most prominent horse owners and received a trophy from the Queen after one of his horses won at Royal Ascot. Princess Haya, an Olympic equestrian, became his sixth wife in 2004.

Yesterday Sir Andrew allowed the media to report that Princess Haya had applied for wardship of their children, as well as for a non-molestation order and a forced marriage protection order. The latter can be made to protect a person from being forced into a marriage or from any attempt to be forced into a marriage and could, for example, prevent someone being taken abroad.

Sir Andrew rejected an application by the sheikh’s lawyers for those details to be subject to reporting restrictions.