• Monday, Apr 12, 2021
  • Last Update : 11:44 am

Dubai princess says she is a hostage in secret video

  • Published at 11:38 pm February 16th, 2021
Sheikha Latifa
File Photo: 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 Reuters

Several of Princess Latifa’s friends are now urging the UN to step in and ensure her wellbeing through the Free Latifa campaign, as the video messages have stopped coming

In secret video messages sent to her friends, Princess Latifa Al Maktoum, daughter of Dubai ruler and UAE Vice President Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, said she was being held hostage by her father.

The videos were recorded over several months on a phone Latifa was secretly given about a year after her failed escape from Dubai by boat in 2018, reports BBC.

In one of the videos shared with BBC, the princess speaks of how commandos stormed the boat, held her at gun point and drugged her before forcibly taking her back. 

Several of Princess Latifa’s friends are now urging the UN to step in and ensure her wellbeing through the Free Latifa campaign, as the video messages have stopped coming. Her father  Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, one of the richest men in the world, has helped Dubai become largely successful but there are concerns over the rule of law and women’s rights.

The video messages were shared with the BBC by Tiina Jauhiainen, a close friend and former capoeira instructor of the princess who played a crucial role in the 2018 escape attempt.

Princess Latifa, 35, first attempted escape at the age of 16. The next attempt, in 2018, came after years of planning.

The plans began in 2011, when Princess Latifa contacted French businessman Herve Jaubert with the help of Jauhiainen. On February 24, 2018, Jauhiainen used an inflatable raft and a jet ski to take the princess to international waters, where Jaubert was waiting with yacht marked as belonging to the US.

Eight days later, off the coast of India, commandos stormed the boat and captured the princess.

Mary Robinson, a former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights who has met Princess Latifa, said she had been told during a visit to Dubai that the princess suffered from bipolar disorder. The former UN rights envoy later learned that the claims about the princess’s mental health were false.

Robinson also recalled how photos of her meeting with Princess Latifa were used without her knowledge to give the impression that the princess was well.

"I was particularly tricked when the photographs went public. That was a total surprise... I was absolutely stunned," Robinson told BBC.

"I continue to be very worried about Latifa. Things have moved on, and so I think it should be investigated," she added.

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