In videos published by BBC, Princess Latifa bint Mohammed al-Maktoum, daughter of the Dubai’s billionaire ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum has alleged in a leaked video. She also said that she is being kept under house arrest by her father in the villa. “I am a hostage and this villa has been converted into a jail,” said the 35-year-old princess. “I just want to be free,” Latifa added.
Who is Princess Latifa?
Latifa bint Mohammed al-Maktoum is the daughter of Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum. The Dubai ruler is credited for transforming the UAE city into one of the most foremost tourist destinations in the world. Before the recent development, Latifa broke into International news in 2018 when a human rights group released a video made by her where she in detail described one of her attempts to escape Dubai.
The timeline of Princess Latifa so far:
In June 2002, Latifa’s older sister Shamsa escaped while she was on holiday with her father’s other family members at their estate in Surrey, England. According to BBC, a wide search was launched for her without the help of the Police. Shamsa was tracked down by Sheik’s men in Cambridge a month later after her disappearance. Shamsa claimed that 4 Arab men abducted her and drove her back to her father’s house where she was drugged and flown back to Dubai.
The then 16-year-old Latifa made her first escape. Latifa tried to cross UAE borders but was caught and brought back to Sheikh in Dubai. She was then jailed for the next 3 years and 4 months. According to Latifa, she was tortured in solitary confinement she was in.
20-year-old Princess Latifa met a fitness instructor named Tiina Jauhiainen. Tiina was hired to teach princess Brazillian martial art. During the course of their coaching, they became friends. Meanwhile, Latifa’s movements were tracked and restricted. Her passport was taken away from her and she was not permitted to drive.
Herve Jaubert, a French businessman was contacted by Latifa. Herve was one of the people who had successfully escaped Dubai, UAE after he was convicted of embezzlement. Over the next few years, Herve and Latifa maintained contact where they planned her escape. Latifa’s instructor and friend Tiina was given the responsibility of being Latifa’s aide.
A video of Latifa surfaced where she was seen documenting her life in confinement and her plans for escape. In the video Latifa claimed that the video was a “just in case” video. She sent it to a few trusted allies and instructed them to publish it should her attempts at escaping fail.
Latifa and her friend Tiina took a 26-mile-trip early in the morning by boat to the International waters where Tiina claimed a US-flagged yacht awaited them. Latifa had planned to head to India where she hoped to then fly to the United States of America where she could claim political asylum. A political asylum would’ve protected her on US soil without any attempts by her father to get her back to Dubai.
Latifa’s boat, off the Indian coast, was boarded by the Indian special forces. Latifa and Tiina took hiding in the boat bathroom. Indian special forces used smoke grenades against them. Unable to breathe, Latifa and Tiina made their way to the deck but Indian special foces held them at gunpoint. Latifa was dragged off the boat while Tiina was detained in high security facility in UAE.
March 11, 2018
Anti-UAE group released Latifa’s video where Tiina told her story to the world.
December 5, 2018
A day before BBC released its documentary around Latifa’s escape, the UAE government published a statement which stated that Latifa and Shamsa “are adored” by the family. The statement also claimed that both the sisters are “safe in Dubai” and celebrating Latifa’s birthday “in privacy”.
December 24, 2018
3 photos of Latifa were released by the UAE Foreign ministry from lunch on 15 December. In the picture, Latifa was seen having lunch with one of the Sheikh’s wives, Princess Haya along with UN Human Rights Commissioner Mary Robinson. This was the first time people knew about Latifa’s whereabouts since her failed escape. Meanwhile, Mary received international pushback from human rights activists and the community who alleged her of pedaling the “Dubai line”.
Tiina received a message from an anonymous stranger who claimed to be in direct contact with Latifa. After Tiina answered a number of security questions, her communication with Latifa opened yet again and she eventually managed to slip a phone to her.
Latifa made use of her phone and recorded another video where she went in length about the conditions, she has been kept in. According to Latifa, she was in solitary confinement with windows that were barred shut.
The second “official wife” of Sheikh Mohammed Princess Haya escaped Dubai to UK with her 2 children. Haya reported that she feared for her and her children’s life. It should be noted that Haya, who in reality is Sheik’s sixth wife, was the only spouse with a public profile.
March 5, 2020
The honorable UK High Court released a fact-finding judgement which found that Sheikh Mohammed was responsible for the kidnapping and return of both Shamsa and Latifa. The judge also ruled that the Sheikh had not been honest with the court. The ruling also stated, “At the conclusion of the fact-finding judgment I found each of the mother’s core allegations, save for an assertion related to forced marriage, proved.”
Later in 2020
Tiina Jauhiainen’s lawyer David Haigh, who maintained contact with Latifa realized that his messages to Latifa are not received by Latifa and later contact with Latifa was lost.
Mary Robinson gave her first interview since the pictures of her with Latifa were released by the UAE. In the interview, Mary claimed that she was deeply worried about Latifa. She also confessed that she regretted not seeing Latifa without any intervention and not asking her about her conditions.