Runaway wife of Dubai ruler seeks 'forced marriage protection order'

Runaway wife of Dubai ruler seeks 'forced marriage protection order'

The dispute between Dubai's ruler and his estranged wife is set to be heard before a British court in November. Sheikh Mohammed, meanwhile, has applied for the return of his children to Dubai, and also requested the court to impose reporting restrictions on details about the orders - a request Judge Sir Andrew McFarlane rejected, stating "there is a public interest in the public understanding, in very broad terms, proceedings that are before the court".

According to British laws, forced marriage protection is enforced to shield a person who has been or being forced into marriage, or is being threatened with one.

According to Reuters, when asked about the court proceedings, an official at the London embassy of the United Arab Emirates said: "The UAE government does not intend to comment on allegations about individuals' private lives".

Representatives of the sheikh did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The 70-year-old sheikh, who is also vice-president of the UAE, married the princess, a former member of the International Olympic Committee, in 2004 in what was believed to be his sixth marriage.

The Tuesday hearing took place in the High Court of England and Wales, where Princess Haya was present.

Despite reports in recent weeks the upcoming court case is a divorce, the U.K.'s judicial press office, with the agreement of the couple and the president of the Family Division of the High Court, issued a statement earlier this month saying the case strictly concerned the "welfare of the two children".

Princess Haya was accompanied by her lawyer Baroness Fiona Shackleton, who represented Britain's Prince Charles in his high-profile divorce from Diana, Princess of Wales, in 1996.

It is also understood that Princess Haya has applied for a non-molestation order as well as wardship of her children, with whom she left the UAE - daughter Sheikha Al Jalila, 11, and son Sheikh Zayed, 7.

But why exactly did Princess Haya leave her husband and Dubai?

Last year, reports said that one of the sheikh's daughters from a different wife, Sheikha Latifa bin Mohammed al-Maktoum, attempted to flee Dubai on a frenchman's boat, but was obstructed by armed forces on the Indian coast and returned to her home country. She had also posted a video recounting her abuse by her own family.

Two of Sheikh Mohammed's daughters reportedly made previous escape attempts, one earlier this year who escaped the UAE by sea with the help of a Frenchman and another in July 2000 in Surrey, who was later found in Cambridge.

Princess Haya is reported to have applied for asylum in Germany and according to The Times, where was escorted by a diplomat. BBC News says she was apparently spirited back to Dubai about a year after being found in Cambridge, 50 miles north of the United Kingdom capital.

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