WHEN you're among the richest royalty in the world, sometimes a single multimillion-pound mansion just won't do.
That seems to be the case for Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the controversial ruler of Dubai, who's believed to have built a vast empire of luxury houses across the UK.
The 71-year-old, whose private wealth has been conservatively estimated at $4billion, is allegedly behind a truly staggering splurge on some of the most expensive properties in Britain.
That includes the £13million purchase of Woodhay in Surrey last year, a house marketed as a "palatial and aesthetically beautiful mansion".
The vast estate was bought by Smech Properties, a Guernsey-registered company which owns another of the Sheikh's homes, The Guardian reports.
Woodhay boasts 10 bedrooms, a swimming pool, and a cinema, all set in 10 hectares of parkland located four miles from Ascot — where the Sheikh races his thoroughbred horses.
Here's a look at some of his huge UK properties — including the £75m estate from which one of his princess daughters tried to escape.
£75M mansion where princess escaped
The true scale of the Sheikh's investment in UK property hasn't been confirmed —but even what is publicly known is mind-blowing.
His Longcross House near Cobham in Surrey, for example, was reportedly bought to serve as an escape from the stifling summer heat in Dubai.
The sprawling estate and its surrounding land were at the heart of a planning row in 2019 after the Sheikh was accused of installing portable cabins for his servants on the site without permission.
And neighbours were also upset that a six-foot spiked metal fence was setup around the £75m estate, allegedly without asking them first.
Longcross is infamously where the Sheikh's daughter, Princess Shamsa, tried to flee from her family in 2000.
She was later abducted in Cambridge and flown back to Dubai — she hasn't been seen in public since.
Before being jetted back to the UAE, it's thought she was held briefly at another of the Sheikh's vast properties, Dalham Hall.
He snapped up the Suffolk estate in 2009 for £45million and it now serves as grade II-listed stud farm near Newmarket racecourse.
The country pile, which boasts 3,300 acres of land, was once owned by British diamond magnate and imperialist Cecil Rhodes.
But even that estate is dwarfed by his 14-bed holiday home in the Scottish Highlands, which is on a 63,000-acre estate.
The home, which has helipads for up to three choppers, was also embroiled in a planning row when the Sheikh planned to add a hunting lodge and a laundry to clean guests' clothes.
Priciest place in UK
And those are just mansions that are known about — he is also believed to have properties in some of London's most exclusive neighbourhoods.
One of his family's companies bought a house in Eaton Square in Belgravia in 2013 for £17.3million.
The square was named the most expensive place to buy property in Britain in 2016.
But even the hefty price tag on that purchase may have been eclipsed by the sale of a six-storey property in Knightsbridge three years ago.
When Rutland House hit the market in 2018, it made headlines for its staggering £61.5million price.
No one knew who'd bought the mega-pad, which came complete with an underground pool, cinema and aquarium.
But The Guardian says it was bought by Lizzium Ltd, a business based in the tax haven of Jersey, which also owns Warren Towers, another of Sheikh Mohammed's Newmarket properties.
It's also not known how much property the Dubai ruler actually owns in Newmarket, which has become something of a home from home for him.
As well as Warren Towers and Dalham Hall, Sheikh Mohammed has two vast horseracing stables there.
They're part of Godolphin, his family's Thoroughbred company which has stables around the world and produces some of the most sought-after stallions on the planet.
His love of horseracing has allegedly led him to pour more than £600millioninto the sport over the last decade, and he's been pictured with the Queen atprestigious events like Royal Ascot.
It's thought his properties in Newmarket could now account for as much as half the town, made up of paddocks, stables, and even dozens of ordinary houses.
Some have praised Sheikh Mohammed for his huge investments in Britain.
But the cash from the ruler comes at an uncomfortable price.
Kidnapped children claims
Sheikh Mohammed didn't just abduct one of his children — he's alleged to have imprisoned another too.
Last year, the High Court found on the balance of probabilities, the civil standard of proof, that he had Princess Shamsa abducted in Cambridge.
Princess Haya, his sixth wife, claimed Cambridgeshire police's investigation into the abduction was dropped in 2001 after representations were made to the UK Government.
The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office denies having intervened, but refused to disclose relevant information it held on the grounds of protecting the UK's interests with the UAE.
After the High Court ruling, a video emerged in February this year in which another of Sheikh Mohammed's 30 children said she'd been kidnapped too.
Princess Latifa sent a secret message to friends saying she feared for her lifeand was being kept under armed guard in a villa with barred windows and doors.
Calling herself a "hostage", she adds: "Every day, I’m worried about my safety in my life.
"I don’t really know if I’m going to survive this situation.”
She explains that she was detained by armed men as she attempted to flee Dubai aboard a yacht in 2018.
The UN's human rights office and Dominic Raab, the UK foreign secretary, have demanded proof of life for Latifa from Dubai, but none has yet been provided.
Her friends say she hasn't been heard from in six months.
Sheikh Mohammed has said Princess Latifa daughter is in the loving care of her family.
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