UK court bars Dubai ruler from face-to-face contact with two children | Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum


The Dubai ruler will have no direct contact with his two children from his marriage to Princess Haya or any say in their upbringing, after a long legal battle between the former couple and a series of damning judgments over his ” abusive behavior”.

Concluding more than two and a half years of legal proceedings, which began when Haya fled to the UK with the children in April 2019, the President of the Family Division of the High Court of England and Wales has said Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum had “constantly exhibited coercive and controlling behavior towards members of his family whom he considers to be behaving contrary to his will”.

In a written judgment, Sir Andrew McFarlane ruled that Haya would be solely responsible for decisions about the children’s medical care and schooling. He said the ruler of Dubai, who is also prime minister of the United Arab Emirates, a close ally of Britain in the Gulf, had inflicted “domestic violence” on an extraordinary scale against his ex-wife, which had emotionally and psychologically harmed their children and would do so. continue to do so if she were to obtain approval for matters concerning their well-being.

At the start of the proceedings, Sheikh Mohammed demanded the return of Jalila, now 14, and Zayed, now 10, to Dubai. But McFarlane said that since October 2019 the Dubai ruler had agreed to the children remaining alive with their mother in England and on December 1 last year announced that he would no longer pursue direct contact with them.

This reversal follows damning judgments by McFarlane who determined, on a balance of probabilities, that:

  • Sheikh Mohammed orchestrated the abductions and confinement of two of his other children, Princess Latifa and Princess Shamsa – in the latter case on the streets of Cambridge – and subjected Haya to a campaign of ‘harassment and intimidation’ .

  • He hacked into the phones of Haya and five of his associates, including two of his lawyers, using NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware while the pair were locked in legal proceedings.

  • His agents attempted to buy a £30million estate next to Haya’s Berkshire home in a ‘very significant threat to his security’, while publicly denying they were doing so.

In the latest judgment, released Thursday, McFarlane noted the fact that Sheikh Mohammed did not attend or play a role in any of the court’s many hearings, relying instead on his lawyers, and his “lack of any acceptance responsibility, expression of remorse or understanding of the impact of this behavior on the mother” and the refusal to acknowledge Haya’s good parenting.

Describing the co-parenting relationship as “entirely bankrupt”, he wrote: “The children are aggrieved by the extent to which their mother is compromised emotionally and in terms of the time and attention she may have given them due to the need to address all the issues that have preoccupied her over the past three years, and the impact that the constant need to address the demands of this judicial process has had on her.

“The harm caused to the children by all of these factors will, I am clear, continue if she is, in the future, required to communicate with His Highness for his approval for even serious matters relating to the health of the children. , education or psychological well-being.

In oral evidence, Haya, who last year secured a potentially record-breaking divorce settlement that could top £500million to protect her and their children from the Sheikh, said: “To hopefully share the parenting with someone who can’t even see you as a parent, or bear to mention your name on paper, doesn’t feel like there’s anything shared about it.

McFarlane said a series of legal challenges, including appeals, brought by the sheikh’s lawyers, while legitimate, were a manifestation of a desire to ‘constrain and control’ Haya and prevent or curtail investigations of the court.

He added: “His Highness’s behavior towards the mother, in each of its separate manifestations, whether through threats, poems, coordination of press articles, secret organization of purchase of property immediately overlooking his, telephone hacking or in the conduct of this litigation, has been abusive. to a high, even exorbitant degree.

The result of the judgment is that Sheikh Mohammed will be limited to “indirect contact” with his children, for example by telephone or through messaging apps.

McFarlane said the explicit naming of children in a welfare judgment appeared to be unprecedented, but Haya and Jalila favored publication and it would “remove the potential for guesswork, manipulation and/or lying” by the sheikh or those who act for him with regard to the children. well-being.


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