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The estranged wife of the ruler of Dubai – one of the most high-profile leaders in the Middle East – has asked for a forced marriage protection order in a UK court.

Sheikh Mohammed Al Maktoum’s wife, Princess Haya Bint al-Hussein, is the third female member of his court to apparently try to run away.

This month she was reported to be in hiding in London and is said to be in fear for her life.

The case began in London on Tuesday.

What happened in the High Court?

Princess Haya asked for wardship of her children – with whom she left the United Arab Emirates (UAE) – as well as a forced marriage protection order and a non-molestation order.

The details of the orders sought by the princess are not known.

Sheikh Mohammed meanwhile applied for the return of his children to Dubai, and also applied for the court to impose reporting restrictions on details about the orders – a request the judge rejected.

Sir Andrew McFarlane ruled there was “a public interest in the public understanding, in very broad terms, proceedings that are before the court”.

Who is Princess Haya?

The princess, who was born in Jordan and educated at private schools in Britain, is an Olympic equestrian and the half-sister of the current Jordanian ruler, King Abdullah II.

She married Sheikh Mohammed in 2004, becoming his sixth and “junior” wife. The 70-year-old sheikh, who is the billionaire owner of Godolphin horse racing stables, reportedly has 23 children by different wives.

Princess Haya, 45, initially fled to Germany to try to seek asylum there, but it emerged this month that she was living in central London – specifically, in an £85m ($107m) town house in Kensington Palace Gardens.

It’s believed that Princess Haya will want to stay in the UK. However, if her husband demands her return to Dubai, this could cause a diplomatic headache for Britain – which has close ties to the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Read more

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