United Arab Emirates Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Mouktam and his estranged wife have been fighting a legal battle over their children’s welfare. It has undermined the deliberately cultivated image of the city as a playground for Western tourists that embraces modern sensibilities in an overwhelmingly conservative part of the world.

The vice president of the UAE has molded and spread a view for many outside the Middle East, Dubai as an attractive and cosmopolitan hub. The 70-year-old ruler has faced successive claims of mistreatment by women in his family.

This week, Princess Haya Bint Hussein, one of Maktoum’s six wives have appealed to Britain’s High Court for a forced marriage protection order for one of their children. The order aims to protect someone who has been into a forced marriage or being forced to marry. 

Currently, Haya is staying in London with their two children and she has stated that she wants not to return to the UAE. This is not the first time Moktam had such allegation. Before this incident, two of his daughters from another wife had tried to flee Dubai saying they couldn’t bear the family’s repressive rules.

However, both of them were captured and brought back to Dubai.  Radha Stirling, the CEO of British-based advocacy group Detained in Dubai said, “When you see female members of the royal family literally fleeing the country and seeking asylum, it should indicate the even greater extent to which average women in the UAE are denied basic rights.”

However, Haya did not flee like other women, she was in London living in her own home. In early July after she claimed custody of her young children, she intended not to return to Dubai.

According to Reuters,  Haya is still in fear with her safety and she has also urged a  “non-molestation order” to protect herself from threats or harassment. On the opposite side, Mouktom is opposing the applications through his lawyers and claimed for his children to be returned to Dubai.

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