A British court on Tuesday ordered the ruler of Dubai to pay his ex-wife and their children close to 550 million pounds (roughly $942 million Cdn), in one of the most expensive divorce settlements in British history.
The High Court said Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum must pay 251.5 million pounds ($430.6 million Cdn) to his sixth wife, Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein, and make ongoing payments for their children Al Jalila, 14, and Zayed, 9, underpinned by a bank guarantee of 290 million pounds ($496.5 million Cdn).
The total amount the children receive could be more or less than 290 million pounds, depending on factors including how long they live and whether they reconcile with their father.
The settlement includes 11 million pounds ($19 million Cdn) a year to cover security costs for Princess Haya and the children while they are underage.
Judge Philip Moor said the family needed “water-tight security” and the main threat to them came from Sheikh Mohammed, rather than outside sources.
Princess ‘terrified’ of her husband
Haya, 47, fled to the U.K. in 2019 and sought custody of her two children through the British courts. The princess, who is the daughter of the late King Hussein of Jordan, said she was “terrified” of her husband, who is alleged to have ordered the forced return to the Gulf emirate of two of his daughters.
Sheikh Mohammed, 72, is also the prime minister of the United Arab Emirates and a major horse breeder. The founder of the successful Godolphin horse-racing stable, he is on friendly terms with Queen Elizabeth.
A British family court judge ruled in October that Sheikh Mohammed had authorized the hacking of Princess Haya’s phone during their legal battle. He denied knowledge of the hacking.
The judge also ruled that Sheikh Mohammed had conducted a campaign of fear and intimidation against his estranged wife and “ordered and orchestrated” the abduction and forced return to Dubai of two of his adult daughters: Sheikha Shamsa in August 2000 and her sister Sheikha Latifa, in 2002 and again in 2018.
Eclipses previous big settlement
The divorce bill eclipses the 450 million pound ($770 million Cdn) settlement awarded Tatiana Akhmedova in her 2016 split from Russian billionaire Farkhad Akhmedov, at the time cited as Britain’s most expensive divorce.
Tuesday’s settlement includes a holiday budget of 5.1 million pounds ($8.7 million Cdn), an annual sum of just over 450,000 pounds ($770,000 Cdn) for the children’s staff and around 275,000 pounds ($471,000 Cdn) for their animals, including two ponies and a horse.
It is possible, but rare, for financial divorce settlements to be appealed in England.
A spokesman for Sheikh Mohammed said in a statement that the ruler “has always ensured that his children are provided for. The court has now made its ruling on finances and he does not intend to comment further.”