A UK court on Thursday, March 5, stated that Dubai's ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum had ordered for the abduction of his wife and two children from London. The case involved Sheikh's 45 years old wife Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein, the half-sister of the Jordanian king.
As proceedings went on, the case delved into the abduction of Sheikh's two adult daughters from his earlier marriage: Sheikha Shamsa and her sister Latifa.
Case of Sheikh's wife: Princess Haya
Princess Haya fled to London along with her two children, last April as she was "terrified" from her husband, the Dubai's ruler, who is also the Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates. Consequently, the sheikh applied for his children, an eight-year-old boy and a 12-year-old girl to be returned back to UAE. Princess Haya told the court that since she left, last April, she has faced a "campaign of fear and intimidation".
Her lawyer Charles Geekie told the court in November that his client was sent anonymous notes threatening the lives of her children. Once, a helicopter landed outside her house, whose pilot told her that he had come to take a passenger to a desert prison. Dubai's Sheikh divorced her without her knowledge on February 7, 2019, i.e., on the death anniversary of her father.
Judge Andrew McFarlane said in his judgement that it was "clear the date will have been chosen to maximize insult and upset to her". In court hearings, she asked the court to look into the kidnappings and forced detention of Sheikh's two elder daughters.
Case of Sheikha Shamsa
Judge McFarlane found Sheikh Mohammed had "ordered and orchestrated" the abduction of his daughter Sheikha Shamsa, from the UK in August 2000, when she was 19 years old. After being returned to Dubai, she has been kept devoid of her liberties, for most of if not all through the past two decades.
Case of Princess Latifa
The case of Shamsa's sister, the 34-year-old Princess Latifa drew global attention, when she attempted to flee from Dubai in 2018. She had earlier escaped from Dubai in 2000, but was returned back and was captivated for three years, "on the instructions of her father".
In 2018, she had managed to escape, along with a friend, but was stopped and sent back by Indian special forces. "She was pleading for the soldiers to kill her rather than face the prospect of going back to her family in Dubai," the judge said. "She was plainly desperate to extricate herself from her family and prepared to undertake a dangerous mission in order to do so," he added.
Considering the three cases, Judge McFarlane said that events since 2000 showed "a number of common themes, at the core of which is the use of the state and its apparatus to threaten, intimidate, mistreat and oppress with a total disregard for the rule of law," AFP reported.
"I also accept Mr Geekie's submission that these findings, taken together, demonstrate a consistent course of conduct over two decades where, if he deems it necessary to do so, the father will use the very substantial powers at his disposal to achieve his particular aims," he added.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum reacts
Dubai's ruler termed the whole process as one-sided. He denied the allegations leveled against him and said the case involved "highly personal and private matters relating to our children". He appealed the court "to protect the best interests and welfare of the children".
"The outcome does not protect my children from media attention in the way that other children in family proceedings in the UK are protected". "As a head of government, I was not able to participate in the court's fact-finding process," he added.