The ruler of Dubai and his ex-wife recently got divorced, and it is the UK’s most expensive divorce settlement to date. Their expensive split replaces the 2016 divorce of Russian billionaire Farkhad Akhmedov and Tatiana Akhmedova as Britain’s most expensive divorce settlement.
Fun fact: Princess Haya may have chosen to escape to London, UK (“the Divorce Capital of the World”) because English judges are known for being more generous to the spouse who has less finances in a relationship.
Although their parting may not be as expensive as the Gateses’ or the Bezoses’ divorce, it is just as fascinating as those billion-dollar divorces. Here’s why the UAE couple’s divorce involves such a staggering amount of money.
Protecting a princess requires a princely sum
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, the vice president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates, was ordered to pay his ex-spouse Princess Haya bint al-Hussein a divorce settlement amounting to GBP 500 million ($700 million). Yes, with two zeros.
This amount includes financial support for their two youngest children, Jalila (14) and Zayed (9).
In a regular divorce settlement, courts consider a variety of factors when deciding the amount to be awarded to a spouse. These include a spouse’s earning capacity, health, financial resources, and childcare costs after the separation, among other factors.
Besides the fact that the ruler of Dubai is a powerful and wealthy man, the UK court determined that this amount is just and warranted because he poses a significant threat to the Princess and their children.
Family law courts across countries may have different ways of deciding a divorcing couple’s financial settlement, but similar principles apply. In the sheik and princess's case, the British court determined that the Princess and the kids will need millions to lead a normal life and be protected from grave threats. This is because Sheikh Mohammed subjected his ex-wife to a campaign of intimidation.
Spying on your spouse – don’t do it!
Husbands who are about to get divorced may feel disempowered and ineffective when confronted with the fact that they’re separating from their wives and losing custody of their kids. They may resort to intimidation tactics, such as posting about their soon-to-become-ex on social media, vowing to destroy their spouse’s favorite belonging, or threatening to delay the divorce proceeding.
Hacking their phone using state-of-the-art government software is a much less common intimidation technique. But that is the technique deployed by Sheikh Mohammed.
While the court proceedings were ongoing, Sheikh Mohammed hacked the phones of his ex-wife and her associates, including her attorneys. And the hacking technology used wasn’t your run-of-the-mill hacking software; his agents used state-sponsored spyware supplied by a company involved in a series of state-wide hacking scandals.
The ruler, though, wasn’t looking to hack into state secrets — just his wife’s. He was ultimately aiming to gain an unfair advantage over their child protection battle.
It’s not okay to abduct children, even (or especially) your own
Sheikh Mohammed also reportedly planned to abduct two of his other, older children with Princess Haya: Princess Shamsa and Princess Latifa. This was also part of his Operation: Intimidation.
In Washington State and many other civilized places, parental kidnapping, or custodial interference, or parent-child abduction is a crime.
Home bitter home
Sheikh Mohammed’s agents also attempted to purchase a GBP 30-million estate overlooking the Princess’s home in Berkshire, England, and it’s safe to assume that it wasn’t because there’s a shortage of other valuable pieces of real estate in the UK. Note that the Princess moved to England to get away from her intimidating husband, so this would have seriously dented her escape plan.
Because of the attempted purchase, the judge ordered a 100-meter-exclusion zone around her UK property and a 1,000-foot no-fly zone above it. While this undoubtedly creates a safe environment for the princess and her kids, it makes hosting birthday parties and book club events just a tad harder. But it’s a small price to pay for the safety of their lives.
The ultimate cost of posing a threat to your wife and children is…
Limitless access to money. Along with other benefits.
The UK court judge ordered the payments for Princess Haya and the two children to be paid upfront (instead of annually) to make sure that they get the full amount. If the security costs were otherwise paid annually, certain situations might arise in which her ex-husband might reduce the payments.
The Princess was also awarded a holiday budget of GBP 5.1 million, GBP 450,000 for the children’s staff, and GBP 275,000 for their pets, which include two ponies and a horse.
Before moving to the UK, the Princess was awarded an annual sum of GBP 83 million for her household expenses and an annual allowance of GBP 9 million. This was to compensate for the clothing and jewelry that she had lost because of their separation.
Additionally, the Princess and her little ones are to receive payments to ensure their security until the year 2068. That’s not all; there are also some allowances for a kitchen upgrade and a pizza oven. All in all, life’s necessities are well covered in this divorce settlement.
GBP 500 million is unquestionably a jaw-dropping sum of money for a divorce settlement. But as this case shows, that amount is essential to ensuring the security of the spouse and children against threats from a man of such immense wealth and power (who is also reportedly friends with Queen Elizabeth II).
No one is guaranteed a $7 million holiday allowance in a divorce settlement. What you’re entitled to will depend on several factors. Consult divorce attorneys Buckingham, LaGrandeur, & Williams to know what you should be entitled to in your divorce case in Washington State.