The Emirati Minister of Tolerance was charged with “serious sexual assault” by the organizers of the Hay Literature Festival in Abu Dhabi.
Caitlin McNamara says she was attacked by Sheikh Nahyan Mubarak Al Nahyan, 69, on Valentine's Day earlier this year.
Ms. McNamara, 32, who worked in Abu Dhabi at the start of the festival in the city, has now been interviewed by Scotland Yard.
She waived her right to anonymity and spoke publicly about the alleged attack in an interview with the Sunday Times.
The sheikh, who is a member of the Abu Dhabi ruling family and fondly known as the "Sheikh of Hearts", denies any wrongdoing and said over the weekend that he was "surprised and saddened" by McNamara's allegations.
On Saturday the directors of the Hay Festival promised never to return to the UAE while the sheikh remains in his post as tolerance minister in the cabinet of the United Arab Emirates.
Nahyan previously hosted Boris Johnson when he was Mayor of London and former Prime Minister Tony Blair.
Sheikh Nahyan Mubarak Al Nahyan, 69, (pictured) was accused of sexually assaulting her on Valentine's Day by a British woman – Caitlin McNamara (right), the organizer of the Hay Literature Festival in Abu Dhabi
Nahyan previously hosted Boris Johnson in 2013 when the then Mayor of London went to Abu Dhabi on a trade mission
The family of Sheikh Nahyan Mubarak Al Nahyan is the fourth richest royal family in the world.
According to Business Insider, the company controls a sovereign wealth fund valued at an estimated £ 640 billion, including the Manchester City football team.
In 2013, Nahyan, who was educated in the UK and attended Oxford University, welcomed Boris Johnson to Abu Dhabi when he came to the country on a trade mission.
At that time the Sheikh was Minister of Culture and Youth. In the same role, he also hosted Tony Blair when he attended the opening of the UAE Global Forum on Education and Skills.
He and Blair were previously photographed together at the Volvo Ocean Race in Abu Dhabi.
After leaving office, Blair worked as an advisor to the UAE sovereign wealth fund.
Ms. McNamara had worked in the Sheikh's Ministry for almost six months after being hired by the Hay Festival to organize its first event in the UAE.
On the morning of the alleged attack, which was Valentine's Day, she told the Sunday Times that she had received a call from the sheikh inviting her to dinner and said she had never spoken to him on the phone before.
Nahyan also hosted Tony Blair when he attended the opening of the UAE Global Education and Skills Forum
"After six months, I was used to being called to meetings at any time of the day," she told the newspaper. "And nobody said no to Nahyan – he was like a god."
From the car that brought her to Nahyan's house, Ms. McNamara texted Peter Florence, director of the Hay Festival.
She described how she felt like she'd been called to the headmaster's office about a break in class before joking that Florence should send help if she didn't come back within 24 hours.
Despite the funny tone, Ms. McNamara said she felt uncomfortable and turned on her WhatsApp tracker so others can follow her location.
Her anxiety grew when, instead of going to the royal palace, she said that the car that was picking her up was going in the opposite direction and leaving town with the driver not telling her where they were going.
McNamara said she was taken over a bridge to a small island that she believes is the exclusive Al Gurm resort, where many of the Emirati Royals own properties, and then to the sheikh's house.
There she was taken inside, where she met the sheikh, who was very kind to her, greeted her with a hug, and made a £ 3,500 watch set with gold and diamonds.
They also drank wine, she said, which surprised her because it is forbidden in the country.
The sheikh, who is a member of the Abu Dhabi ruling family and fondly known as the "Sheikh of Hearts", denies any wrongdoing and said over the weekend that he was "surprised and saddened" by McNamara's claims. Pictured: Mr Johnson and the Sheikh in 2013
Nahyan, who was trained in the UK and attended Oxford University, greeted Boris Johnson in Abu Dhabi when he came to the country on a trade mission
After trying to keep the conversation professional and talking about a poet who irritated the sheikh, McNamara claims he started touching her.
"It was scary," she said. & # 39; He was on the sofa next to me and started touching my arm and feet and I pulled back then he got powerful … All of a sudden it clicked why I was there. I felt so naive. & # 39;
At this point, McNamara said that her situation was dawning on her and she began to think about how to escape the house and the island without offending him by making him believe she would reject him.
After trying to find excuses to leave, McNamara said the sheikh took her on a tour of the house instead, "grabbing her face and kissing her" at one point, and when she was in a gold elevator , she claimed he attacked her again.
"We got on a golden elevator and he pushed me against the wall and started rubbing my breasts in weird ways like wipers," she claimed.
Nahyan was also pictured with sports stars Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal after the final of the Capitala Tennis World Championship on January 3, 2009 in Abu Dhabi
He pulled up his kandora and was naked underneath and climbed on top of me. I pulled my dress down, but he put his hands on my dress and his fingers inside me. & # 39;
Nahyan has denied the allegations.
Finally, McNamara told the Times that she could go down the stairs, out the door, and into a car off the island, and took a two-hour cab to Dubai the next morning.
In text exchange with Florence after the alleged incident, she told him that Nahyan had kissed her and that she had to "get out of here". Florence told her to come home immediately.
In the days that followed, she claims the Sheikh tried to call her several times and also texted her.
An alleged text that can be seen in a screenshot reads: "Good morning, my dearest darling, I am all going according to plan. I wish you a wonderful day. Do not look forward to the fact that you will soon miss that you are around Take care of LoL. "
On February 25, the festival opened as planned and it flew back to London on March 5 as the coronavirus pandemic picked up.
"What he did affected everything," she said, telling the Sunday Times that she has since broken up with her longtime boyfriend, lost her job, and feels that she will never be able to return to the UAE.
Nahyan with former French President Nicolas Sarkozy (left) and former US Secretary of State James Baker (right) in 2013
During the lockdown, she reached out to Philippe Sands – renowned writer and human rights attorney – who put her in touch with Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, a leading voice on women's rights.
"It is criminal for a man who is a senior minister of his nation to grossly injure a woman who is there to organize a major cultural event," Kennedy told the Times.
“The UAE should fire him immediately, but I suspect that will not happen. His family owns the land. & # 39;
Once the lockdown was over, McNamara contacted the police and gave them a three-hour interview at the Family Unit in Stratford, east London.
After the interview, the police took her security concerns so seriously that panic alarms were posted in her home.
The Sunday Times reached out to the Sheikh and his agents for a response to the allegations but did not respond directly, the newspaper reported, but received a response from a London defamation attorney, Schillings, with an explanation.
"Our client is surprised and saddened by this claim, which arrives eight months after the alleged incident and via a national newspaper," it said. "The account is declined."
Caroline Michel, chairwoman of the Hay Board, told the Sunday Times on Saturday night that the alleged attack was "a dire violation and a terrible abuse of confidence and position".
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