A judge yesterday told of his "frustration" after a Middle Eastern prince -- whose airline sponsors Arsenal Football Club -- failed to appear to give evidence in a High Court marriage dispute.
Sheikh Ahmed Al-Maktoum, chairman of Emirates Airline, had been due to appear at a hearing in London to refute allegations that he married interior designer and model Nivin el-Gamal four years ago.
But a lawyer told Mr Justice Bodey that Sheikh Ahmed -- a member of the royal family of Dubai -- had to attend a political meeting in Riyadh and could not be in court.
Martin Pointer QC, for Sheikh Ahmed, said the case would continue without his client's oral evidence.
The judge said he felt "frustrated" and might have been able to make provision for a video link had he been given more notice.
The court had earlier heard evidence from another witness and Sheikh Ahmed was due to enter the witness box after a 10-minute break.
Mr Justice Bodey said he had a "gripe" about not being told earlier and told the court that he was "frustrated".
"Why is it suddenly sprung on the court on Monday morning seconds before he comes into the witness box?" asked the judge.
"Provision could have been made for a video link."
Mr Justice Bodey said the timetable of the case, which began earlier this month and is due to end later this week, could have been altered.
Mr Pointer had told the judge that Sheikh Ahmed had to attend a meeting of the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) in Riyadh.
Mr Pointer added: "My client intends no disrespect at all to your lordship by not being here."
Miss el-Gamal says she married Sheikh Ahmed in a ceremony in London in January 2007.
She wants the judge to rule that the marriage took place, declare it null and void and therefore put her in a position to claim maintenance.
Mr Pointer told the court that Sheikh Ahmed argued that no such marriage ceremony took place.
The hearing continues.