The curious case of a Bahraini Sheikh, Bollywood and $40 million
Sheikh Hamad Isa Ali Al-Khalifa, a member of the Bahraini royal family, is a huge Bollywood fan. This became public knowledge last year after an Egyptian businessman sued him for around $40 million for non-payment of dues after brokering meetings with Bollywood celebrities.
Businessman Ahmed Adel Abdallah Ahmed claimed that the sheikh had reportedly agreed to pay up to $1.5 million per meeting with 26 Bollywood stars including Amitabh Bachchan, Aishwarya Rai, Sanjay Dutt and Anil Kapoor. Ahmed also claimed the Sheikh promised him a $500,000 bonus for every third meeting.
The Sheikh reportedly pulled out of the deal after meeting four Bollywood stars — Salman Khan, Shah Rukh Khan, Ranveer Singh and Aditya Roy Kapoor — in Mumbai and Dubai.
At the trial held in London, Ahmed put forward the argument that the payments were legally binding as the Sheikh agreed to his demands in a January 2016 phone call, but Sheikh Hamad denied that any agreement had been reached. He believed that the meetings were a result of a deep friendship he shared with the businessman.
The Financial Times reported that "Sheikh Hamad testified that he now recognised he was feeling “emotionally and psychologically vulnerable” in the months after his father died when he was introduced to Mr Ahmed in late 2015."
In a defence statement submitted to the court in November 2018, Sheikh Hamad said he pulled out of the deal after "unfair pressure" and "unwarranted demands for very large sums of money and seeking to arrange meetings which were not convenient".
Ahmed's lawyers tried to defend the pair's "oral agreement" however, the judge ruled the case against the Sheikh as weak.
Giving his judgment in London, Justice Jacobs dismissed the claim and said there were “simply too many inconsistencies and improbabilities for the case advanced by Mr Ahmed to be accepted.”
The judge also rejected Ahmed’s account of the phone conversation on January 7, 2016, according to The Independent and said: "I reject his case that there was any agreement on the terms alleged."
In a prepared public statement the Sheikh said: “I am deeply disappointed that someone whom I had come to think of as a good friend is bringing this claim. I was trusting when Ahmed offered to introduce me to my Bollywood idols. I have since been pursued by Ahmed for enormous sums of money, despite having been very generous to him in the past. I do not accept that there was ever any contractual arrangement between us, let alone one that was exclusive and could never be terminated. I believe this claim has no merit, and I shall defend it.”