14:27, March 05 168 0 theguardian.com

2020-03-05 14:27:04
Dubai ruler's wife who shattered perception of a perfect couple

Princess Haya Bint al-Hussein, 45, is the daughter of the late King Hussein of Jordan and half-sister of the country’s current ruler, King Abdullah II.

Like her estranged husband, she is close to the British royal family. She lives with her two children from her marriage to Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum in a house near Kensington Palace, central London, which she bought for £85m from Lakshmi Mittal in 2017.

Haya was educated at private schools in the UK and studied philosophy, politics and economics at Oxford University. Less typically for an Arab princess, at age 19 she became the only woman in Jordan licensed to drive trucks and is as happy being photographed in jeans as in the immaculate outfits she wore to court.

She shares her estranged husband’s love of horses and, in her 20s, pursued a full-time career as an equestrian athlete. She competed in the 2000 Sydney Olympics, where she finished 70th after carrying her country’s flag at the opening ceremony.

Haya became Sheikh Mohammed’s sixth wife when she married him in 2004. She adopted an altogether more public facing role than the sheikh’s senior wife, holding high-profile posts including president of the International Federation for Equestrian Sports), serving on the International Olympic Committee and as a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations World Food Programme.

She also regularly appeared at international social events with the sheikh, leading to them being described as a perfect couple. But that perception was shattered when she fled to the UK with their two children – now aged 12 and seven – in spring last year, setting the scene for an acrimonious high court battle.

The judgment suggests there had been problems in the marriage for some time, recording that that Haya had embarked on an affair with one of her bodyguards at some stage in 2017-18 and that her husband had subjected her to a “campaign of fear and intimidation”.

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