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Randa al-Banna interview: ‘Our baby is now in her forties. The emir still won’t let me near’

The first wife of Dubai’s ruler says she was kicked out of the country when her marriage ended in the 1970s — and hasn’t seen her daughter since

When Randa al-Banna met the prince, she had no idea who he was. It was 1972, she was 16 years old and she had just been expelled from a convent school in Beirut after scandalising the nuns with her naughtiness. Instead of reciting the catechism, she was whiling away the summer going to the beach and spending her nights dancing to the Bee Gees.

The vivacious Lebanese teenager was at a party in Beirut when she was introduced to Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, prince of Dubai — a wealthy desert kingdom she had never heard of. After a brief courtship they were married and embarked on a life of private jets, champagne and parties at Tramp nightclub in London.

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