The ex-wife of Dubai’s billionaire ruler told of her ‘relief and gratitude’ after the High Court banned him from having direct contact with their two young children.

She spoke out yesterday following a final judgment which found Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, 72, had abused her to an ‘exorbitant degree’.

Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein, 47, said the last few years had been a ‘frightening journey’ and that her children ‘are not pawns to be used for division’.

Thanking the court and family support service Cafcass, she added: ‘They have given us hope for a future of dignity, free as possible from fear.’

In his findings, Sir Andrew McFarlane — the most senior family court judge in England and Wales — branded the sheikh a domestic abuser.

He said he ‘consistently displayed coercive and controlling behaviour with respect to those members of his family who he regards as behaving contrary to his will’.

Princess Haya will now have sole responsibility for their daughter and son, Al Jalila, 14, and Zayed, 10, regarding their medical care and schooling.

The sheikh can only have indirect contact such as phone calls. Sir Andrew said his decision ‘is justified by the need to reduce the potential for continuing harm to the children’.

The ruling is expected to be the final significant decision in the case between the sheikh and his sixth wife, who fled the United Arab Emirates in 2019, having become ‘terrified’ of her then-husband.

At the start of the proceedings he applied for the summary return of the two children to Dubai.

However, he has since accepted they will live in England and has opted not to pursue direct contact with them.

In her applications to the court, the princess was last year awarded a record-breaking divorce settlement of around £550million for the family’s life-long security.

The saga between the royals began shortly after Haya fled to Britain in April 2019, fearing for her safety following the discovery she was having an affair with a bodyguard.

She was later blackmailed by four members of her security team while the sheikh orchestrated a campaign of intimidation against her.

He then later hacked her phone and those of her lawyers, previous court findings have shown.

The rulings against the sheikh appear not to have affected his international standing or relations between Britain, Dubai and the UAE.

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