The Times view on Sheikh Mohammed and our ties with the UAE: Questionable Allies
Dubai’s ruler faces a criminal investigation over the hacking of a Tory peer’s phone.
British judge’s conclusion that Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum used sophisticated spyware to hack the phone of his estranged wife’s lawyer will only deepen the acrimony in what was already a bitter custody battle. But the news that Dubai’s ruler now faces an investigation by Scotland Yard will be met with particular dismay in the corridors of Whitehall, still ringing with celebration over the United Arab Emirates’ £10 billion investment in British infrastructure. That deal was hailed by Downing Street as a critical show of confidence in post-Brexit Britain and a mark of the strong and developing relationship with the UAE.
For a close ally, the UAE has long had a problematic human rights record, in common with other Gulf states. Indeed, too often in recent years the UAE has not behaved as an ally at all, including in 2018 when Dubai police arrested the British academic Matthew Hedges and sentenced him to life imprisonment for spying. In fact, the UAE had spied on him, allegedly hacking both his phone and that of the lawyer trying to win his freedom.