Dubai ruler ordered to pay princess $734m in royal divorce case

A London judge ordered Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum to pay his estranged wife Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein.

Princess Haya (pictured) said during the case that she was 'under siege', and that the sheikh’s surveillance of her 'could not be more intrusive and distressing', according to the ruling [File: Bloomberg]

Dubai’s ruler was ordered to provide his estranged wife and their children at least 554 million pounds ($734 million) in the largest financial award the U.K. family courts have ever seen.

A London judge ordered Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum to pay Princess Haya Bint al-Hussein 251.5 million pounds within three months to cover security and lost items like jewelery and clothing. He must also make annual payments of around 11 million pounds toward costs for his children while they are in education, which will be secured by a 290 million-pound bank guarantee, the judge ruled. The remaining millions account for backdated sums and a learning fund.

This would provide Princess Haya with a “clean break” from the sheikh following their divorce, Judge Philip Moor said in a ruling published Tuesday. He said the sheikh, who didn’t give evidence in the case, has brought the unusually high award for security on himself, after another judge found that he ordered the hacking of phones belonging to her and her legal team.

The total amount the sheikh will have to pay to his family is likely to be much higher because of annual security costs he must pay directly to his children after they’ve completed education.

The sheikh said in a statement that he “has always ensured that his children are provided for.” Lawyers for Princess Haya declined to comment on the ruling.

London’s family courts have been a popular destination for high-value legal fights, with judges typically prepared to order a more equal share of a couple’s assets. Before Tuesday’s decision, the largest publicly known judge-ordered award in a divorce was 450 million pounds to the wife of billionaire Farkhad Akhmedov — though the two settled with a payment of less than one-third of that amount.

“Under Siege”

Over the past two years, London’s courts have played host to a number of explosive allegations and rulings concerning the Dubai royal family.

Princess Haya said during the case that she was “under siege,” and that the sheikh’s surveillance of her “could not be more intrusive and distressing,” according to the ruling. The only claim for financial provision she made for herself was for security and some lost personal possessions.

The case has also revealed the lavish spending enjoyed by middle-eastern royalty.

As part of the settlement, Judge Moor awarded the family over 5 million pounds a year to spend on vacations, including for flights on private jets. There’s nearly 300,000 pounds annually to cover the upkeep of their horses and other pets and even 39,000 pounds to install two trampolines.

Princess Haya said during the hearing that her reliance on periodical payments would put “incredible additional pressure” on the family because they will “be living always under the shadow of possible litigation.” Judge Moor ruled that she can be trusted with the lump-sum awarded to her.

He acknowledged the “truly opulent and unprecedented standard of living enjoyed by these parties in Dubai” and said he had to reach “a conclusion as to what is reasonable while remembering that the exceptional wealth and remarkable standard of living enjoyed by these children during the marriage takes this case entirely out of the ordinary.”

Source: Bloomberg