'Intimidating': Dubai Ruler Tried To Buy 30 Million Pound Home Next To Ex
Agents representing Dubai's ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum were weeks away from exchanging contracts on the 30 million pounds ($41 million) Parkwood estate when the sheikh's team decided to withdraw out.
A senior British judge has concluded that Dubai's ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum attempted to buy one of the most expensive houses for sale in Britain, which overlooks his ex-rural wife's estate, in a "deliberate" and "intimidating" move. When Mohammed's team decided to withdraw out of the agreement, they were weeks away from exchanging documents on the 30 million pound ($41 million) Parkwood estate.
According to a published verdict, his ex-wife, Jordanian Princess Haya bint al-Hussein, had brought the subject to the High Court in London as part of a legal struggle. Judge Andrew McFarlane, President of England and Wales' Family Division, who earlier found that the Gulf ruler had undertaken a menacing campaign against Haya since she fled to England in 2019, said she had reason to be concerned about the property move.
"There can be no doubt that this deliberate behaviour, both in negotiating a purchase and then withholding information about it, by those who are acting for the benefit of the Dubai ruling family, will have had the effect of intimidating this mother to a very marked degree," he said in a ruling published on Wednesday. Haya said she feared the plans would allow the sheikh - who the judge has also ruled hacked her phone and those of her lawyers - to spy on her or possibly try to abduct their two children.
"It feels like I am being stalked ... the prospect of Sheikh Mohammed, or those on his behalf buying the properties around Castlewood is terrifying and utterly wearing," she said in a written statement to the court. Haya's attorneys said they first learned of the sheikh's plans in late 2019 and tried unsuccessfully to get confirmation from his legal team that he would not buy any properties near her Castlewood estate in Berkshire, which is close to Queen Elizabeth's son Prince Andrew's home in Windsor Great Park. Haya learned in late 2020 that a trust linked to Mohammed was attempting to purchase the 72-acre Parkwood estate adjacent to Castlewood, which had been bequeathed to her by her father, Jordan's late King Hussein.
After the sheikh's lawyers failed to reply to requests from Haya's legal team about the intended purchase, in November 2020 they responded to a direct request from the High Court to confirm the trust was in the process of buying Parkwood and it might well take place in the next few weeks.
The sheikh's representatives stated in the same month that they would not proceed with the acquisition of the estate, which McFarlane described as "the most costly development land currently on the market," according to press reports.
"Quite simply, the purchase of a property situated directly on top of the mother would have gone ahead if it hadn't been for the mother's insistence and my Lord's support in demanding an answer," Haya's lawyer Charles Geekie said. "When the threat is right on your doorstep, it's a game changer." Mohammed's lawyer testified in court that the trust behind the property deals looked for commercial opportunities in the neighbourhood regularly.
The following month, the judge agreed to extend a "non-molestation order" against Mohammed. This included a 100-meter exclusion zone for the father or people acting on his behalf around Castlewood, a no-fly zone to prevent aeroplanes or drones from flying between the ground and 1,000 feet over her estate, and a wider area in which he couldn't buy or rent any property.
Haya's lawyers argued that the sheikh's initial request for a 14.8-kilometre (9-mile) exclusion zone would have prevented him from visiting Windsor and Ascot racecourses, as well as Windsor Castle, Queen Elizabeth's residence west of London, and McFarlane, agreed to "radically" reduce the zone's size.