The ruler of Dubai has just been told to pony up some big bucks to his ex, in what Bloomberg reports is "the largest financial award the UK family courts have ever seen." In total, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who's also the prime minister of the United Arab Emirates, must pay about $734 million to his estranged wife, Princess Haya: $333 million or so within the next three months to take care of security for her and their two children, as well as to replace clothing and jewelry for the princess, with another $384 million bank guarantee that will cover $14 million annual payments for the kids while they're still in school. The remainder of about $17 million will take care of a learning fund and other owed money.
The Guardian reports that Princess Haya escaped with her children to the United Kingdom from Dubai in 2019 and has been embroiled in legal battles with Sheikh Mohammed since over custody and support. The money to be used for security for the princess seems to be a major necessity, as High Court judges in Britain have found that Sheikh Mohammed has hacked Haya's phones (as well as those of some of her associates), as well as tried to set up his agents in a residence next-door to her own. He's also accused of being behind the abductions of two of his older daughters, Princess Latifa and Princess Shamsa. "Given their status and the general threats of terrorism and kidnap faced in such circumstances, they are particularly vulnerable and need watertight security to ensure their continued safety and security in this country," Justice Philip Moor noted of Haya and her two children.
He added that she and the children had enjoyed a "truly opulent and unprecedented standard of living" in Dubai. NDTV reports that the sum awarded to the 47-year-old princess was about half of the $1.8 billion settlement she sought. "I really want to be free and I want them to be free," she told the court. A spokesman for Sheikh Mohammed, 72, notes, "He has always ensured that his children are provided for. ... He asks that the media respect the privacy of his children and do not intrude into their lives in the UK." Much more here on that jaw-dropping "opulent" lifestyle, with Sheikh Mohammed once racking up a $2.6 million bill for strawberries for his summer home. (Read more Dubai stories.)