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Dubai king loses the custody battle with his ex-wife.

A senior British judge has concluded that Dubai’s ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, subjected his ex-wife to “exorbitant” domestic abuse in exchange for giving her sole custody of their children.

The ruling puts an end to an extraordinary, bitter, and expensive three-year custody battle between Sheikh Mohammed and his former wife, Princess Haya bint al-Hussein, Jordan’s King Abdullah’s half-sister, at the High Court in London.

The Dubai ruler had made Haya fear for her life, abducted and mistreated two of his daughters from a previous marriage, and ordered the phones of Haya and her lawyers, one of whom was a British lawmaker, to be hacked using the state security software Pegasus, according to a previous ruling by a London court.

Sheikh Mohammed must also pay a British record of more than 554 million pounds ($730.50 million) for the children’s long-term security and upkeep.

Sheikh Mohammed had “consistently displayed coercive and controlling behaviour” against family members who defied his will, according to Andrew McFarlane, President of the Family Division in England and Wales, in his final ruling.

“The father’s behaviour toward the mother of his children is ‘domestic abuse,'” McFarlane said, despite the fact that it was carried out on a scale that was “completely outside the ordinary circumstances of cases heard in the Family Court in this jurisdiction.”

Haya should make all decisions regarding the education and health of the couple’s two children, Jalila, 14, and Zayed, 10, according to the judge, with Mohammed only being kept informed.

After the sheikh decided not to pursue direct contact with the children, McFarlane said, his relationship with them will be limited to phone calls and messages. The publication of his welfare decision brings an end to a case that has cost well over £70 million in legal fees.

The judge said Sheikh Mohammed was a loving father who adored his two children, who in turn adored him, but he chastised the sheikh for his conduct in the courtroom, which had taken a toll on Haya, and his refusal to acknowledge his ex-role wife’s in the children’s upbringing.

“His Highness’s behaviour towards the mother… has been abusive to a high, indeed exorbitant, degree, whether by threats, poems, coordinating press reports, covertly arranging to purchase property immediately overlooking hers, phone-hacking, or in the conduct of this litigation,” McFarlane said. “Despite the court’s findings, His Highness has refused to acknowledge that any of this behaviour occurred or that he played any role in orchestrating it.”

The royal saga began shortly after Haya fled to the United Kingdom in April 2019, fearing for her safety after it was discovered she was having an affair with a bodyguard. According to previous court findings, she was later blackmailed by four members of her security team, while the sheikh orchestrated an intimidation campaign and then hacked her phone and the phones of her lawyers.

“The circumstances under which the mother has been forced to care for the children since their arrival in England are far from normal,” McFarlane said. “To avoid the possibility of the children being abducted, their lives have been severely restricted.”

Despite the serious rulings against Sheikh Mohammed, they have had little impact on his international standing or relations between the United Kingdom, Dubai, and the United Arab Emirates, which have gotten closer.


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