A few months ago, one of the wives of the ruler of Dubai, allegedly fled the UAE after learning disturbing new facts about the treatment of one of his children. The disappearance of Princess Haya bint Hussein, daughter of the King of Jordan, first emerged in a poem that Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum posted to his Instagram but was later confirmed when she surfaced in London.
Princess Haya, the sixth wife to the ruler of Dubai, started a legal battle against the sheikh in London’s High Court asking the British authorities to issue a child protection order. Although details of the case haven’t yet been publicly released, It’s believed Princess Haya is seeking an injunction in connection with Sheika Latifa bint Mohammed Al Maktoum.
The story of Princess Latifa made headlines around the world when her bid to escape the UAE on a yacht captained by a former French intelligence officer was foiled by Indian special forces. Princess Latifa was renditioned back to Dubai and has not been allowed to leave since.
The authorities in Dubai say Princess Latifa’s welfare is a private family issue but that she is being well cared for. The only public images of her emerged late last year when a former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights went to visit the Princess in one of the palaces used by Dubai’s ruling family.
Mary Robinson said the princess was “in the loving care of her family” but human rights activists claim she was being used as a pawn in a global PR battle. Some critics even claim Princess Latifa was being held under chemical sedation.
The situation has created a big headache for the British authorities because the UAE is a big trade partner and political ally in the Persian Gulf. The al-Maktoum’s are also friends with the British Royal Family and the Sheikh and Princess Haya have, in the past, been photographed with Queen Elizabeth II.
The drama has created even more a headache for the Jordanians. Princess Haya is the daughter King Hussein of Jordan and the nasty legal spat could result in political reprisals.
Jordan has largely managed to remain neutral in ongoing political tensions in the region. It has remained on friendly terms with other countries, including Qatar, which has been subjected to a Saudi-led blockade since 2017. The UAE, Bahrain and Egypt have also imposed economic sanctions against Qatar and the dispute doesn’t show any signs of being resolved anytime soon.
With that in mind, it’s interesting to see the state-owned Qatar Airways making a big play for Jordan. Prince Ali Bin Al-Hussein, the brother of Princess Haya, yesterday attended a lavish ceremony in Amman hosted by Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar Al Baker. Also in attendance were a number of other minor Royals.
The Qatari’s are currently planning a number of big investments in the Kingdom and this could be a deliberate move by the Jordanian’s to protect themselves should their relationship with the UAE go south. Officially, Al Baker was in Amman to open up a new Qatar Airways office in the city but he has also been given an elevated position in the Qatari government.
Al Baker has previously spoken extensively against the blockade and has become a de facto spokesperson for the Qatari’s through his high profile role. Qatar Airways has been banned from flying to the UAE since the blockade started two years ago. At the height of tensions, there were even reports of Qatari and UAE fighter jets intercepting commercial flights from each other’s countries.
The current situation isn’t nearly as fraught as that but the political posturing continues and Qatar Airways sure knows how to get itself into the conversation.