March 5, 2020 / 4:13 PM / a month ago

Dubai's ruler Sheikh Mohammed and his former wife Princess Haya

LONDON (Reuters) - A British judge has ruled that Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum ordered the abduction of two of his daughters and orchestrated a campaign of intimidation against his former wife.

His conclusions followed a series of court hearings in London to decide on the custody of the Sheikh’s two children with his former wife, Jordanian Princess Haya bint al-Hussein.

Here are some details about Mohammed and Haya.

SHEIKH MOHAMMED

Sheikh Mohammed, 70, is Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and has ruled Dubai since January 2006 following the death of his brother.

He went to school in Dubai but in 1966 came to Britain to attend the Bell School of Languages in Cambridge before returning to Dubai to become Minister of Defence, the first of the government roles he has held.

He is credited with Dubai’s leap on the international stage, transforming it from a modest seaport to a top trade and tourism hub.

Mohammed, whose face and words grace posters around the emirate, is widely regarded in the Middle East as a visionary that made Dubai a model that other Arab countries aspire to.

He is also one of the world’s most influential horse owners and breeders, and with his brother set up the Godolphin horse racing stable. He has a large estate and stables in Newmarket, to the northeast of London, which is the home of British flat racing.

In 2012, he won an individual gold medal at the equestrian World Endurance Championships where the UAE squad also took the team gold, and that year also he won the 160km (100 mile) European Endurance Race in Italy.

On his official Facebook website, he said: “I am passionate about sports, particularly endurance racing. I enjoy and love horse riding with my family members. I enjoy the outdoors, especially the Arabian desert experience.”

The official Dubai government website says that “in addition to being an inspiring leader and progressive manager, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed is a prominent poet”.

He said on Facebook that his family “believed in the importance of visionary public service and philanthropy”.

“One’s experiences and personal history shape who they are, and by sharing the lessons I have learned during my lifetime I hope I can continue to have a positive effect on others, especially young people,” he said.

PRINCESS HAYA

Princess Haya, 45, was born in May 1974. Her father was King Hussein of Jordan and her mother was Queen Alia. She was three years old when her mother was killed in a helicopter crash.

The current ruler of Jordan, King Abdullah II, is her half-brother. She was educated at two private schools in western England, Badminton School and Bryanston School, before studying Politics, Philosophy and Economics at St Hilda’s College, Oxford University.

She married Sheikh Mohammed in 2004 and is believed to be his sixth wife. They have two children - Jalila, 12, and Zayed, 8. The Sheikh is believed to have about 25 children by different wives.

Haya shares her former husband’s love of horses and competed in equestrian jumping in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. She has often attended Britain’s Royal Ascot horse races with Mohammed and they are both friendly with the British royal family.

She is a U.N. Messenger of Peace, a former member of the International Olympic Committee, former President of the International Equestrian Federation and the first Jordanian woman to hold a license to drive heavy trucks, according to her official website.

Since coming to Britain in April 2019, Haya has been given the role of 1st Secretary at the Jordanian embassy in London and is on the official list of diplomats in Britain.

Reporting by Michael Holden; Editing by Mike Collett-White

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