Dubai's ruler probably engaged in behavior "contrary to the criminal law of England and Wales, international law, international maritime law, and internationally accepted human rights norms," according to a family court in Britain. After months of private hearings in a child custody dispute, the court decided that Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum organized the kidnapping of two of his daughters and held them in captivity, the Guardian reports. The ruling was issued in a case brought by Princess Haya bint al-Hussein, the sheikh's sixth wife, who fled to Britain with her two children last year. She accused the sheikh of launching a campaign of harassment against her that included publishing threatening poems and trying to have her abducted by helicopter. She said the harassment began when she tried to find out what happened to the two abducted daughters.
The court looked at allegations that one daughter, Sheikha Shamsa al-Maktoum, was abducted by her father's staff and returned to Dubai after fleeing one of his properties in England in 2001 and that another, Latifa bint Mohammed al-Maktoum, was seized from a yacht after escaping the United Arab Emirates in 2018. The court decided that all of Haya's allegations were true on the balance of probabilities, though it did not require the same standard of proof that a criminal court would. The sheikh did not appear in court, but he submitted statements arguing that he had been trying to protect his daughters, the New York Times reports. According to the court's finding, the sheikh, who is also the prime minister of the UAE, has agreed that his two children with Haya can remain in Britain with their mother. (Read more Dubai stories.)