Inside Janet Jackson’s Billion-Dollar Divorce: Singer Tired of Being the ‘Obedient Muslim Wife’

The pop icon’s five-year marriage to Qatari businessman Wissam Al Mana reportedly ended over his control issues, and she could be receiving as much as $200 million from the split.

Photo Illustration by Sarah Rogers/The Daily Beast

Who needs love when you could have a well-timed divorce?

When reports leaked this week that Janet Jackson had split from her third husband, Wissam Al Mana, all signs pointed to the most profitable divorce ever. After all, Al Mana is primarily known for his Qatari dough. The 42-year-old businessman runs the Al Mana Group, which was founded by his late father and specializes in luxury goods, fashion, watches and jewelry. Al Mana’s humble little family business oversees retail operations in the Middle East for luxury brands like Armani and Hermes. The Al Mana group is responsible for opening the first NBA stores in the Middle East, and boasts a sub-company that owns every single McDonald’s franchise in Qatar. That handbag-NBA-McNuggets money is no joke: Wissam’s net worth clocks in at an estimated $1 billion. In contrast, Jackson’s $174 million valuation probably seems like pocket dirhams to her new Qatari family.

But what’s money got to do with it? Potentially, a whole lot. Jackson and Al Mana got married in 2012, in an intimate ceremony that was only confirmed to the public a year later. In a statement, the couple told ET Online, “Last year we were married in a quiet, private, and beautiful ceremony.” They continued, “Our wedding gifts to one another were contributions to our respective favourite children’s charities.” Over the next few years, the extremely private couple only made the occasional headline—first with a rumor that Jackson had converted to Islam, and then with the news that the 50-year-old singer was with child.

The announcement of Janet’s miracle pregnancy came after the abrupt cancellation of her “Unbreakable” tour due to “a sudden change.” “I thought it was important that you be the first to know,” Jackson told her fans in a video apology. “My husband and I are planning our family. So I’m going to have to delay the tour.” Jackson shared an exclusive photo of her baby bump with People, telling the magazine, “We thank God for our blessing.” In January 2017, Janet and Wissam welcomed their son Eissa into the world. According to recent reports, they separated shortly after, clocking out at around five years of matrimony.

By making it just past the wood anniversary, Janet Jackson has positioned herself to receive a whole lot more than a timber trinket. Assuming that both of the wealthy parties in this relationship signed a prenup, Janet is still looking at a healthy payoff. That’s due to the way that prenup agreements are typically structured, with hypothetical spousal support skyrocketing past the five and ten-year marks. According to the New York Post, Jackson was entitled to $100 million if the couple stayed married for five years, and another $100 million if they had a child—which has led people to hypothesize that by putting in 5+ years of matrimony, Jackson was setting herself up for her own happily ever after.

Clearly, Jackson places a high premium on her privacy: her second marriage to Rene Elizondo Jr. famously went public almost a decade after they got married, when Elizondo filed for divorce in 2000. Al Mana’s status as an independently wealthy businessman unaccustomed to the spotlight has increased the couple’s mystique. In a rare public confession, Wissam divulged their shared passion for “going to nice exotic places away from the world and from prying eyes.” Still, paparazzi occasionally managed to catch Jackson and her man, snapping pictures of the once-scandalous singer in modest, head-to-toe garb. A source told The Sun that, “When she’s visiting Wissam’s family in the Middle East she wears no make-up, no hair extensions and keeps to traditional Muslim clothing...She feels like she has found a home with her new religion. She has spent a great deal of time studying it.” They added, “The days of raunchy dance moves and sexual lyrics are long gone.”

While Al Mana—who doesn’t drink, rarely gives interviews, and can’t be found on social media—clearly had a strong influence on his wife, their separation suggests that Jackson ultimately felt stifled and suffocated by her hubby. “She thought he had become too controlling during the pregnancy and she had already allowed him to dictate her appearance and even the way she performed at concerts,” a source reported to Page Six, alleging that his edicts included covering up, as well as a moratorium on sexually suggestive dance moves. “It drove her crazy and she felt she was losing her fan base.”

“She loves to be in control,” a “family confidante” told the New York Post. “She ceded that control [in marriage] and she was not happy about it. She wants to get back to being Janet Jackson and not Mrs. Wissam Al Mana or being the obedient Muslim wife.”

According to the Page Six story, Jackson was further disillusioned by Al Mana’s reaction to accusations of elder abuse against Katherine Jackson. In February, Katherine Jackson received a temporary restraining order against her nephew, Trent Lamar Jackson. According to court documents, Trent is accused of emotionally abusing the 86-year-old and stealing from her bank accounts. “That’s when Janet made her decision that there was no turning back,” Page Six’s source maintains. “She was worried about her mother—and Wissam showed little to no concern.”