The billionaire ruler of Dubai has tried to allay concerns about traffic chaos near his planned Highland retreat – because he will fly his family in by helicopter.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum is hoping to expand his massive Scottish estate to accommodate his huge family, which includes a nine-bed house and two lodges for his staff.
But concerns were raised by Transport Scotland and local residents the prince’s entourage would wreck havoc on local roads designated within a ‘national scenic area’.
Sheikh Mohammed, who has several wives and 23 children, said the family’s trips to Inverinate in Wester Ross had been “limited by a lack of accommodation”.
The rich ruler, through his development company Smech Properties Ltd, are seeking to build two new lodges and a nine-bedroom house at his Highland retreat to help accommodate his huge family, servants and entourage.
Objections were also raised by religious leaders at the Church of Scotland, who claimed the development was not acceptable because of the “scale” of the plans.
Local residents slammed the plans. Tina McLeod described them as “utterly hideous”.
She said: “Is this traditional Highland estate set to become yet another playground resort for the rich with little or no benefit to the local community?”
Now he was vowed to fly his family in by helicopter.
In a statement, his development company Smech Properties Ltd said: “The proposed lodges are for the sole, exclusive use of the current land owners and guests.
“They will not be rented for tourist use.
“As with current use, occupation is infrequent.
“They are not occupied for large periods.
“It is anticipated that there will be no significant increase in car movements above the existing traffic flow following the completion of the construction phases.
“As with the current lodges, the majority of visits to the property are either by coach or helicopter supported by a fleet of six 4x4 cars for shooting parties/visits.”
The development already has a 14-bedroom holiday home next door to a 16-bedroom luxury hunting lodge as well as a triple helipad to accommodate his luxury helicopters.
It is the latest development on the sheikh’s estate, which has a triple helipad and a 14-bedroom holiday home next door to a 16-bedroom luxury hunting lodge complete with a swimming pool and gym.
Sheikh Mohammed, who submitted the plans to Highland Council earlier this month, has a fortune worth more than £13.73 billion and brought the estate around 20 years ago.
His family, which includes more than 30 children, use it in summer to escape the 50C Dubai heat.
The sheikh is best known in Britain for being one of the top racehorse owners. He is credited with turning Dubai into one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world.
He succeeded his brother in 2006 to become the ruler of Dubai and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates.
Maktoum’s greatest passion is hors -racing and he is the owner of the Godolphin stables, which has produced some of the leading thoroughbreds in the sport.
Estimated to have a personal fortune of £15bn, in the past 15 years he has transformed Dubai into one of the most modern cities in the world.
Maktoum was behind the Palm Islands, the Burj Al-Arab hotel, the Burj Khalifa skyscraper that dominates the skyline of the city. He also helped start Emirates airlines, sponsors of Arsenal and Paris St Germain football teams.
His first marriage was in 1979 and later wed the daughter of the King of Jordan.
The plans comes after one of his runway daughters, Latifa, sent out a distress message claiming men firing gunshots were outside her hideout.
Highland Council will determine the proposals in due course.