Dubai princess says fears for life as held 'hostage'

Published February 16, 2021
The daughter of Dubai's ruler, Sheikha Latifa, says she is being held captive and fears for her life after a foiled attempt to flee the emirate. — Screengrab from Reuters video
The daughter of Dubai's ruler, Sheikha Latifa, says she is being held captive and fears for her life after a foiled attempt to flee the emirate. — Screengrab from Reuters video

The daughter of Dubai's ruler says she is being held captive and fears for her life after a foiled attempt to flee the emirate, according to new footage aired by the BBC on Tuesday.

Sheikha Latifa has not been seen in public since an attempted escape by sea in March 2018. She is seen crouched in a corner of what she says is a bathroom, in clips that the BBC said were filmed around a year after she was captured and returned.

“I'm a hostage and this villa has been converted into a jail,” she says in one cellphone video.

“There's five policemen outside and two policewomen inside the house. Every day I am worried about my safety and my life.”

In another video, Latifa says her situation is “getting more desperate every day”.

“I don't want to be a hostage in this jail villa. I just want to be free.”

Read | The failed escape: Sheikha Latifa's doomed flight from Dubai

The BBC released the video excerpts ahead of their full broadcast later on Tuesday in its investigative news programme “Panorama”.

The Dubai authorities did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Latifa's father, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, is vice president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates, of which Dubai is a constituent.

The undated videos were broadcast as Latifa's friends voiced concern that secret messages from her have stopped coming, the BBC said.

The videos came from Latifa's Finnish friend, Tiina Jauhiainen, who accompanied her during her escape attempt.

The BBC said it had independently verified the details of where Latifa was held.

In 2018, Latifa attempted to flee the UAE on a boat that was then intercepted by commandos off the coast of India, according to her companions and the UK-based group Detained in Dubai.

A Dubai government source later said that she had been “brought back” and the UAE released photographs of Latifa, saying she was receiving “the necessary care and support”.

In 2019, Sheikh Mohammed's ex-wife, Haya Bint Al Hussein, fled to London, where she applied for a forced marriage protection order relating to their school-age children.

The Dubai emir subjected Haya to intimidation, a British High Court judge ruled last year, granting her application for the children to be made wards of court allowing them to live in London with her.

Judge Andrew McFarlane also ruled that both Latifa and her sister Sheikha Shamsa, the emir's daughters from a previous marriage, had been forcibly returned to Dubai.

He upheld Latifa's account that she was detained at sea by Indian special forces and returned to Dubai.

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