“This villa has been turned into a prison. All the windows have bars. ” It is reclusive in the corner of a bathroom that Latifa al-Maktoum films herself and confides in a low voice her worries and her daily life. The daughter of the Emir of Dubai has secretly recorded several messages intended for her friends, in which she claims to be held hostage on the orders of her father. Since the summer of 2020, she has not given any sign of life.
The link to the BBC article:
Princess Latifa: the daughter of the ruler of Dubai who has disappeared
This silence has lasted too long for her friend Tiina, who has therefore decided to make her exchanges public by contacting the BBC. On February 16, the British channel therefore broadcast a report devoted to the isolation of the Emirati princess, revealing her secrets. “I don’t know when I will be released and under what conditions. Every day, I worry about my safety and my survival. The police threaten me to be incarcerated all my life and never to see the sun again. ” Another threat is that of being shot if she does not follow her father’s instructions.
“I bit him with all my strength”
Latifa al-Maktoum, 35, has been trying to escape her golden prison since she was 16. Her last attempt, planned with the help of Tiina, dates from 2018. She was planning to join India aboard a boat to fly to the United States and apply for asylum there. But commandos caught up with her in the middle of the ocean.
“There were 12 or 15 men,” she says. I got into a fight with one of them, who was holding a syringe. I kept telling him: don’t do that! He grabbed me and lifted me. I kicked him, then saw his sleeves rolled up. I figured this was my only chance, so I bit him with all my might, shaking my head. He screamed, injected me with a tranquilizer and they put me on a stretcher. I lost consciousness. The only thing I remember is the swing of the stretcher and the stairs of the private jet. ”
She woke up in Dubai. “I have been confined here alone since my return, without access to medical assistance. There was no trial, no charge, nothing. ” Only, the young woman had anticipated the possible failure of her escape and had planned the broadcast ofa video in which she warns: “If you see her, it’s not a good sign. I am either dead or in a very bad situation. ”
She then explains that her father does not give her access to any freedom. “I am not allowed to drive, travel or leave Dubai at all. I haven’t left the country since 2000. I have often asked to do so, if only to study or do normal things. But they won’t let me do it. It’s my life. It is very restricted. I need to live. ”
It was not until December 2018 that a photograph of the emir’s daughter was released in the press. It is a public appearance during a meal shared with Mary Robinson, former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. A meeting which would have been arranged by his mother-in-law, Princess Haya, sixth wife of Sheik Mohammed ben Rachid al-Maktoum and sister of the King of Jordan.
Woman and children run away too
“She said to me, ‘It’s a test. If you act well, react correctly, you will be able to go out in a few days. ” Latifa al-Maktoum claims to have met Mary Robinson without knowing the post she had held. “Otherwise, I would have told him everything,” she said. During the meal, we talked about sport, vegan food and the environment. Never in my situation. ” For her, no doubt, she was trapped.
Asked about this visit by the BBC, to find out if she had any regrets, Mary Robinson replied that she “is not familiar with bipolar people” and that she did not want to “worsen her trauma around a good lunch” . And to conclude: “I was deceived by my good friend Princess Haya.”
A few months later, in July 2019, this same princess Haya also tries to escape with her two children. She succeeded and took refuge in the United Kingdom where the couple was regularly photographed in the company of members of the royal family, in particular Queen Elisabeth II, with whom the sheik shared his passion for horse racing. Princess Haya has asked for her children to be placed under guardianship and for a protection order against the forced marriage of their daughter, which is seen as a scandal in the United Arab Emirates.
During all this time, Sheik Mohammed continues to exercise his power as usual and continues official visits to China, Indonesia, or receives Pope Francis. It even launched in 2019, in partnership with the OECD, the Dubai World Women’s Forum – a forum intended to improve the place of women in government, the economy and society. Along with its second edition, in February 2020, he demanded from the British justice the return to Dubai of his wife and children.
Waiting for proof of a position taken
The UK’s Royal Court of Justice ruled in March 2020 that he had indeed abducted Latifa al-Maktoum and her sister, Princess Shamsa. A salutary “breakthrough” for her friend Tiina. She told the BBC that she hoped then that this “major proof” would provoke a public position on the part of the United Nations which would put more pressure on the United Arab Emirates.
In one of her last messages, the Emirati princess believes she is in “a circus” and warns that she is “exhausted by all this”, that she will “not follow their propaganda”. “I want to be free! I don’t know what they are planning to do with me. The situation is getting more desperate every day. ”
Since she no longer responds to messages sent to her, Tiina assumes that her jailers surprised her with her phone and that her conditions of detention have worsened. “I feel like she wants us to fight for her. After several sleepless nights, it was time to act, to reveal these elements. ”
The governments of Dubai and the United Arab Emirates declined to respond to the British channel’s requests. But the BBC recalls their previous statement: “Latifa is safe in the loving care of her family.” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says he is following this case closely. Commonwealth and Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has asked Dubai to provide evidence that Latifa is still alive.