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Dubai’s ruling elite face £1bn lawsuit over claims property developer was ‘robbed’ of £500m business

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Habib Al Mulla, the Executive Chairman of law firm Baker McKenzie, pictured outside a court in Al Ain, UAE, in 2010

Habib Al Mulla, the Executive Chairman of law firm Baker McKenzie, pictured outside a court in Al Ain, UAE, in 2010

Dubai’s ruling elite are facing a £1billion lawsuit over claims that a British property developer was ‘robbed’ of his £500million business in the Gulf state under the threat of going to jail.

It is alleged that high-ranking figures including Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa bin Saeed al-Maktoum, the cousin of United Arab Emirate’s Prime Minister, plotted to defraud Mohammed Haddad of his business more than 10 years ago.

In a claim filed to the Royal Courts of Justice, Mr Haddad said he was forced to sell his half of KM Holdings, a property firm in Dubai, to his associate.

Mr Haddad also alleged that he fled the UAE after he rejected the deal and the electricity and water to his home were shut off.

He claimed that Habib Al Mulla, the Executive Chairman of Baker McKenzie, an international law firm, represented his associate to acquire the shares through a court order and transfer them to a family member of Dubai’s ruling elite. 

Mr Haddad told The Times: ‘I was told to accept four times less than the value of my shares or go to jail.’ 

Radha Stirling, Detained in Dubai and Due Process International’s chief executive, added: ‘In Mohamed Haddad’s case, we can say that the formal system conspired with the informal system of power in the UAE.

‘No judge in the UAE would ever hear this case impartially.’

It follows the High Court ruling in March this year that Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai, ordered and orchestrated’ the abduction of Princess Shamsa in 2002, and then her sister Sheikha Latifa during her escape bid in 2018 – with both being forcibly returned to the UAE. 

In a claim filed to the Royal Courts of Justice, pictured above, Mohammed Haddad said he was forced to sell his half of KM Holdings, a property firm in Dubai, to his associate (file photo)

In a claim filed to the Royal Courts of Justice, pictured above, Mohammed Haddad said he was forced to sell his half of KM Holdings, a property firm in Dubai, to his associate (file photo)

The sheikh was also found to have waged a campaign of ‘fear and intimidation’ against his youngest wife, Princess Haya, who fled to Britain last year fearing that he would kill her.

The court found he masterminded behaviour which, on the balance of probabilities, potentially runs ‘contrary to the criminal law of England and Wales, international law and internationally accepted human rights norms’.

Latifa had been taken by Indian soldiers from a yacht 30 miles from Goa and forcibly returned to Dubai.

A spokesperson for Baker McKenzie told MailOnline: ‘As we have said on many previous occasions Mr. Haddad’s allegations and proceedings are without merit and have already been dismissed by the appropriate legal authorities. 

‘We will contest them vigorously as an example of forum shopping.’ 

Timeline of the legal battle between Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and his wife Princess Haya bint Al Hussain 

The High Court in London previously published rulings relating to the legal battle between Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and his former wife Princess Haya bint Al Hussain of Jordan.

Here is a timeline of events in the case.

July 15, 1949 – Sheikh Mohammed is born in Dubai.

May 3, 1974 – Princess Haya born in Amman, Jordan.

August 15, 1981 – Princess Shamsa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum is born to Sheikh Mohammed, who has several wives.

December 5, 1985 – Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum is born.

Summer 2000 – During a visit to England, Shamsa runs away from her family and seeks immigration advice to try and stay in the UK.

August 2000 – Shamsa is taken from the streets of Cambridge by men working for her father. 

She is taken to her father’s home in Newmarket, before being taken by helicopter to France and then to Dubai. She has not been seen in public since.

March 2001 – A woman claiming to be Shamsa contacts Cambridgeshire Police, saying she has been taken from England to Dubai.

December 2001 – The Guardian publishes an article suggesting Shamsa has been abducted from the UK.

April 2004 – Sheikh Mohammed and Princess Haya are married.

December 2, 2007 – Al Jalila born.

January 7, 2012 – Zayed born.

February/March 2018 – A video of Latifa is uploaded to the internet, in which she gives a detailed account of important events in her life. She also describes what she knows about her sister Shamsa’s time in England and her subsequent abduction.

December 6, 2018 – The BBC broadcasts a documentary called Escape From Dubai: The Mystery Of The Missing Princess.

February 7, 2019 – Sheikh Mohammed divorces Princess Haya under sharia law without her knowledge. She says this date, which coincides with the 20th anniversary of her father’s death, is deliberately chosen to ‘maximise insult and upset to her’.

April 15 – Princess Haya travels to the UK with Jalila and Zayed.

May 14 – Sheikh Mohammed issues proceedings at the High Court in London seeking the summary return of his two children with Princess Haya to Dubai.

May 22 – First High Court hearing before Mr Justice Moor – the media, who are unaware of the hearing or even the proceedings, do not attend.

July 16 – On the eve of a ‘scoping hearing’ to consider media issues before Sir Andrew McFarlane, president of the family division of the High Court, Princess Haya issues applications to make the children wards of court, for a forced marriage protection order and for a non-molestation order.

July 17 – Three journalists attend and lawyers for Sheikh Mohammed apply for them to be excluded. Sir Andrew says the hearing is relatively short while those in court ‘simply scope out what lies before us’ and to consider what information, if any, should be given to the media. The judge adds that the parties will issue a short statement explaining the nature of the proceedings.

July 18 – With the permission of the court, the parties release the following statement: ‘The parties to these proceedings are HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and HRH Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein. These proceedings are concerned with the welfare of the two children of their marriage and do not concern divorce or finances.’

July 30 – At a hearing to work out issues, including the question of media reporting and to how to proceed to a final hearing to determine the welfare issues, Sir Andrew allows the media to report that Sheikh Mohammed has applied for the summary return of the children to Dubai, and that Princess Haya has applied for the children to be made wards of court, for a non-molestation order and a forced marriage protection order.

November 12-13 – Sir Andrew conducts a hearing to make findings of fact in relation to Princess Haya’s allegations against Sheikh Mohammed.

December 11 – The judge delivers his ruling on the fact-finding hearing. However, strict reporting restrictions preventing its publication remain in force.

January 17, 2020 – The judge delivers a ruling on a series of ‘assurances and waivers’ given by Sheikh Mohammed to Princess Haya. He also conducts a hearing to determine whether his earlier rulings should be made public.

January 27 – Sir Andrew concludes that his earlier rulings should be published, but the publication is postponed pending a Court of Appeal challenge by Sheikh Mohammed to this decision.

February 26 – The Court of Appeal hears Sheikh Mohammed’s challenge.

February 28 – Three leading judges dismiss his appeal and refuse to grant him permission to appeal to the Supreme Court. The stay on publication remains in force to give the father chance to make a fresh challenge to the Supreme Court.

March 5 – The Supreme Court announces that it has refused permission to appeal and all previous rulings are made public. 

The judge’s conclusions are that Princess Haya was subjected to a sustained campaign of fear and intimidation by her former husband. He also finds that Shamsa and Latifa were abducted on their father’s orders.

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