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Queen to shun Dubai ruler after UK court ruled he kidnapped his daughters: Report

British monarch to avoid being photographed with longtime horse racing friend Sheikh Mohamed bin Rashed al-Maktoum
Queen Elizabeth presents Sheikh Mohammed with a horse racing trophy (Reuters)

Queen Elizabeth is to distance herself from Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum after a British judge ruled he had kidnapped two of his daughters and harassed his former wife Princess Haya bint al-Hussein, the Times newspaper said on Saturday.

According to a report by the British daily, the queen, who had a close relationship with Sheikh Mohammed, 70, through their shared love of horse racing, will now avoid being photographed with him in public.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE), of which Dubai is a part, is one of the UK's closest allies in the Middle East, and one of its biggest markets for arms sales. 

"The decision to shun the sheikh could have an impact on Britain's relationship with the United Arab Emirates, a key ally," the Times said.

Dubai ruler abducted daughters and has harassed Princess Haya: UK judge
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"The queen is understood to want to avoid being dragged into the dispute between the sheikh and Princess Haya.

"She has been photographed with Sheikh Mohammed and has for a decade received annual gifts of horses from him and also uses his stud services," it added.

In a bid to strengthen bilateral ties following the ruling, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has spoken to UAE crown prince and de facto ruler Mohammed bin Zayed, while UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who is currently in the region, said the government would look at the judgement "very carefully before jumping to any conclusions".

The queen's decision comes just days after the British judge ruled that Sheikh Mohammed is keeping his daughters Latifa and Shamsa captive in Dubai and has conducted a campaign of harassment against Princess Haya, the daughter of the late King Hussein of Jordan.

Harassment detailed

After attending months of closed-door hearings, Middle East Eye and other British media organisations have been allowed to reveal dramatic details of Princess Haya's allegations and the judge's conclusions.

Sheikh Mohammed organised the kidnapping of Latifa, who attempted to flee Dubai in 2018, and her older sister Shamsa, who in 2000 temporarily escaped her family while in the UK, the British court heard.

Alleged by the princess, but deemed unproven by the judge however, was that the emir was attempting to marry off their 11-year-old daughter to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The judgments of Sir Andrew MacFarlane, president of the UK High Court's family division, come as part of an acrimonious custody battle over Sheikh Mohammed,  who is also the prime minister and vice-president of the UAE, and Princess Haya's children.

MacFarlane has concluded that virtually all of Princess Haya's allegations of harassment are true on the balance of judgement.

The allegations include: that the sheikh sent a helicopter to rendition her to a notorious Emirati prison, or at least intimidate her with the prospect; twice had a gun left in her rooms; threatened to take her children away; and mocked her over an adulterous relationship with her bodyguard.

As part of the harassment, the court heard, Sheikh Mohammed unilaterally divorced the princess, backdating it to the 20th anniversary of the death of her father, who died in 1999.

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