It was for love

The prince, the waitress ... and 'a fairytale come true':

It is an unlikely setting for romance. And when Sheikh Sayyid bin Maktoum al-Maktoum arrived in Belarus last month for a clay pigeon shooting competition, his only thought was how to win a medal.

But soon after checking into the presidential suite of the Hotel Minsk the Sheikh's gaze fell on an attractive 19-year-old waitress. Her name was Natasha. The prince liked what he saw.

So much so that instead of leaving for a tournament in Russia the sheikh prolonged his stay in Minsk, wooing Natasha and, last week, marrying her.

Yesterday hotel staff confirmed the prince - a member of Dubai's ruling royal family - had taken Natasha Muslimorova to be his wife. She only began work in the hotel's restaurant two months ago, they said. They also expressed bafflement over the courtship, pointing out it would have been hard for the sheikh to meet Natasha since he ate in his room.

. . .

The sheikh, 30, already has a wife and five children, the paper reported. "I can't say anything without my husband's permission... But for me life has become a fairytale," Natasha told the tabloid: "I really love this man."
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Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region, www.arabist.net.