Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed Al Maktoum or Princess Latifa was last seen in March 2018 aboard a yacht off the coast of Indian.
Dubai's billionaire ruler and UAE Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum's daughter Princess Latifa has come into the limelight again after claiming that she is being held against her will. Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed Al Maktoum or Princess Latifa was last seen in March 2018 aboard a yacht off the coast of Indian. Then, a raid by Indian and Emirati forces took her back to Dubai, two people who had helped plan her escape were quoted by CNN as saying. That was her second failed attempt at escaping.
The first time she tried to leave the UAE was in 2002 as a teenager. Recently, BBC reported that Latifa had been secretly recording herself and those videos were available with them. She sent the videos to friends. She isn't the first daughter of Sheikh Mohammed to try and escape. Two decades ago, her sister Princess Shamsa, also attempted to flee her family while staying in the UK.
In one of the videos, Latifa says, "I'm a hostage. This villa has been converted into jail. All the windows are barred shut, I can't open any window ... I've been by myself, solitary confinement. No access to medical help, no trial, no charge, nothing."
The trapped princess used a phone to make the videos while hiding inside a locked bathroom, as per BBC. A new documentary by BBC Panorama said that almost a year after she was taken back to Dubai, her friend Tiina Jauhiainen was helped by someone to secretly reconnect with her.
Tiina got her the phone, which was used to make the videos "describing her captivity in a villa converted into a jail with its windows barred shut," according to a BBC press release.
"BBC Panorama has independently verified the details of where Latifa was being held hostage. She was guarded by around 30 police, working on rotation, both inside and outside the villa. The location is just metres from the beach. It is not known if she is still there," the press release said, as per CNN.
In an extraordinary series of allegations stretching back almost three years, Dubai's Princess Latifa has claimed her father abducted and imprisoned her numerous times.— ITV News (@itvnews) February 17, 2021
Here's what you need to know about the princess, her disappearance and her return.https://t.co/WEWScKsFUw
In 2000, Princess Shamsa had escaped while on a holiday with the family at their Surrey, UK, estate. The Sheikh used his own men to track her down and found her in Cambridge almost a month later. In an email to her solicitor, Shamsa said she was put inside a car by four Arab men and driven to her father’s house in Newmarket. Then she was injected and given tablets, as per BBC. She was flown back to Dubai in a private plane the next day.
Two years later, Latifa tried to escape at the age of 16. She attempted to travel across the border of UAE and Oman. However, she was caught and brought back to Dubai. Then, she was jailed for three years and four months. She said she was tortured and put in solitary confinement, just like now.
She planned to get out again in 2018. This time she had the help of her friend Tiina and Herve Jaubert, a French businessman who had also escaped from Dubai after being convicted in absentia of embezzlement. The princess also recorded a "just in case" video and sent it to a few trusted people, who would have it published if she fails to escape.
"I just want to be free"— Lotte Leicht (@LotteLeicht1) February 16, 2021
Princess Latifa Al Maktoum, the daughter of #Dubai's ruler who tried to flee the country in 2018 sent secret video messages to friends saying her father is holding her "hostage" & that she fears for her life.https://t.co/FoMS9K5GWC
The video messages detailed her life in Dubai, the confinement forced on her, her first attempt to flee, and her efforts to leave Dubai and seek asylum. Her escape attempt failed, the video was released, and eventually, the government of Dubai published a statement saying that Latifa and Shamsa are "adored and cherished" by the family. They said that Latifa was "safe in Dubai" and celebrating her birthday "in privacy and peace."
Mary Robinson, a former UN human rights commissioner, who met Latifa and was pictured with her in December 2018, told BBC that the princess was a "troubled young woman" who is receiving "psychiatric care." Robinson faced backlash for supporting the Dubai Sheikh.
In early 2019, Tiina and Latifa's line of contact was established. On April 15, 2019, Princess Haya, the second "official wife" of Sheikh Mohammed among his six wives, fled from Dubai to the UK with her two children. She feared for her life as well. The Sheikh tried to fight his wife in court in the UK to have her and their kids returned but was unsuccessful.
No matter how much money he pays to race his horses, no respectable race should touch Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum until he releases his daughter, Princess Latifa, whom he has locked in a "villa jail" for wanting to lead an independent life. https://t.co/FF9I3iPQ4y pic.twitter.com/qKWDzXdQss— Kenneth Roth (@KenRoth) February 16, 2021
The court also found that the Sheikh was likely responsible for forcibly getting his daughters back to Dubai. Princess Latifa's whereabouts are not known.
Cover Image Source: Getty Images | Photo by Warren LittleDisclaimer : This is based on sources and we have been unable to verify this information independently.