| 03.07,19. 04:36 PM |
Princess Haya, wife of Dubai's ruler, has reportedly sought asylum in London
Photo: Sheikh Mohammed and Princess Haya attended the World Government Summit together in February last year. (Reuters: Christopher Pike)
The wife of Dubai's ruler has reportedly fled the United Arab Emirates with their young son and daughter and sought asylum in London.
According to the BBC, Princess Haya Bint al-Hussein is said to be "afraid for her life", while a person close to the family told The New York Times that she fled to Britain several months ago and was seeking a divorce.
It follows the departure from Dubai of one of her husband's daughters last year.
Dubai's ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who is also Prime Minister and Vice-President of the United Arab Emirates, has not officially commented but recently posted poems about heartbreak online.
Who are Princess Haya and Sheikh Mohammed?
Princess Haya, 45, is the half sister of Jordan's King Abdullah II.
She studied philosophy, politics and economics at the University of Oxford, is a former Olympic show jumper (she was Jordan's flag bearer at the Sydney Olympics), was appointed a UN messenger of peace in 2007, and established her own foundation, Tkiyet Um Ali, to deliver food aid in the Arab world.
As the wife of 69-year-old Sheikh Mohammed (reportedly his sixth), she has championed the cause of improving health care, particularly for children.
In 2017 she spoke to the ABC about the war in Syria and subsequent flood of migrants across the Middle East and beyond, saying she had never seen the region in a worse state.
"The Middle East is in chaos. We've got extremism reaping the benefits of that chaos and really using the fact that there's insecurity in food, that there's widespread poverty, to use it as a recruiting tool, and you've got this whole problem literally spilling over worldwide," she said.
Princess Haya has said she does not identify as a feminist, but believes in gender balance and the empowerment of women.
Princess Haya spoke to the ABC's Lateline program in 2017. (Lateline)
"I feel that it's more about gender balance than equality, and with balance there is equality," she said.
"I think change starts from within and I think the best way to drive change is gently."
Beyond his political power, Sheikh Mohammed is one of the world's richest men, with a particular interest in horse racing.
His thoroughbred breeding operation Godolphin won the 2018 Melbourne Cup with Cross Counter and the 2019 Diamond Jubilee Stakes in England with Blue Point.
Princess Haya and Sheikh Mohammed married in 2004 and have two children, aged 11 and seven.