Economics + Wealth

The economics and glamour of divorce: Dubai ruler ordered to pay a record $734 million to his ex-Queen.

Dubai’s PR and brand reputation takes a dent.

Dubai which is famous as one of the world’s most sought-after shopping destination is about to set another record in a different direction. This time in the expensive business of divorce. Dubai ruler has been ordered to pay his ex-wife Princess Haya and their two children a divorce settlement which could reach over half a billion pounds (N302 billion) – the highest ever awarded by a UK court – to protect them from the threat he poses to them.

In a written judgment, Mr. Justice Moor said that “uniquely” the “main threat” to Haya and the children came from Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, who is also prime minister of the United Arab Emirate, a close Gulf ally of Britain.

Haya fled to Britain in April 2019 with her two children. Since then, in a series of hearings concerned with custody, access and financial support, which have so far cost over £70m in legal fees.

The accusations against the Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirate
Dubai ruler
The high court judges listed the following charges against the Dubai ruler:
  • Sheikh Mohammed orchestrated the abductions of two of his other children, Princess Latifa and Princess Shamsa – in the latter case from the streets of Cambridge – and subjected Haya to a campaign of “intimidation”.
  • Using NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware, he hacked the phones of Haya and five of her associates, including two of her lawyers, while the couple were locked in court proceedings.
  • His agents attempted to buy a £30m estate next door to Haya’s Berkshire home in a “very significant threat to her security”.

Referring to the previous rulings, Moor, who ordered that the sheikh pay over £250m upfront to Haya and provide a bank guarantee of £290m for annual payments, said: “I am entirely satisfied that this means that, although HRH (her royal highness Haya) and the children would require security provision in any event, given their status and the general threats of terrorism and kidnap faced in such circumstances, they are particularly vulnerable and need water-tight security to ensure their continued safety and security in this country.

“Most importantly in this regard, and absolutely uniquely, the main threat they face is from HH (his highness the sheikh) himself not from outside sources. This is compounded by the full weight of the state that he has available to him as seen by his ability to make use of the Pegasus software, which is only available to governments.”

How the rich spend their money. 

Dubai ruler

Do you sometimes wonder what the rich do with all their money? The shopping list of the Dubai Princess will give you an idea.

Haya, who in Dubai was given £83m ($102 million) a year for her household spending plus an allowance of £9m per annum and ad hoc gifts, did not ask for any money for herself in the proceedings, other than to compensate for items including jewellery, racehorses, and clothes that she lost as a result of the marital breakdown.

The sheikh, who is vice president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates, was also told to provide 3 million pounds towards the education of Jalila, 14, and Zayed, 9, and 9.6 million pounds in arrears. He was also asked to pay 11.2 million pounds a year for the children’s maintenance, and for their security when they become adults.

These payments will be guaranteed via a 290-million-pound security held by HSBC bank. The final sum, despite being believed by some London lawyers to be the largest public award ever ordered by an English family court, is less than half of the 1.4 billion pounds that Haya had originally sought.

The settlement includes £210m, which must be paid within three months, to cover the security costs of Haya, for her expected lifetime, and her children until they finish tertiary education. The sheikh must also pay £41.5m up front to his ex-wife for chattels cash for education and maintenance arrears and £5.6m a year for each child for maintenance until they finish their tertiary education, when he must instead pay them directly the same amount but for their security. If the bank guarantee were used in full, the settlement would reach £554m, although that could vary depending on how long the yearly payments last.

Hush money 

Details of her spending provided for the proceedings included £6.7m paid to four security staff during her marriage to Sheikh Mohammed after they had allegedly blackmailed her over an affair, she had had with one of them.

The court had previously heard of the affair and of a phone call the sheikh made to her about it that left her “terrified”. Her ex-husband criticized her use of some funds from the children’s accounts to pay the alleged blackmailers. Moor did not hear from any of the alleged blackmailers, but said, while it would have been “preferable” if Haya had used her own cash, “she was in a very difficult position indeed. She would have been desperate for HH not to find out”.

These payments will be guaranteed via a 290-million-pound security held by HSBC bank. The final sum, despite being believed by some London lawyers to be the largest public award ever ordered by an English family court, is less than half of the 1.4 billion pounds that Haya had originally sought.

How does this affect Dubai and the Emirates brand?Dubai ruler The sheikh, is vice president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates. On this count alone, the divorce settlement and all the intrigues behind the scenes will dent the high-profile Dubai brand in a few ways:

  • It draws media attention and public scrutiny to Dubai in a negative manner.
  • Every mention of Dubai and United Arab Emirates regarding this divorce settlement affects the appealing travel imagery of Dubai.
  • It projects the Dubai royal family in poor light and questions the Prime Minister’s judgement.
  • Should the UK and international media go on a media frenzy or did into the matter much deeper, they might uncover more negative findings which could further dilute the Dubai brand.[1]
However, it’s not all bad news from a PR and brand perspective. Despite the record pronouncement, all the reporting in the media still has an air of glamour. And as the wealthy kingdom rolls out its PR machinery around the world, Dubai will still keep its glitter for many years.

Article Sources

Article Sources
1 The Guardian
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