Every parent tries to protect their daughter as much as they can, they try to keep her safe and protected from the outside world. But what if a daughter isn’t safe at her very own home? What if she’s kept captive and feels tired and endangered at her own place? Well, such is the case with Princess Latifa Al Maktoum of Dubai. The daughter of Dubai’s ruler, Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum, has been held captive in a villa jail against her will for quite some time now. All this information was disclosed via a video of Princess Latifa being imprisoned and confessing how she was drugged by commandos to be flown back to detention. These videos were sent by Princess Latifa to her friends and were thus, shared BBC Panorama.
The video in question shows how the princess of Dubai has been kept in detention in a villa, with 2 policewomen inside the house and 5 outside the villa. The video was made from the bathroom because she claimed it was the only room in the villa she could actually lock, and didn’t have keys to lock the other ones, including her own room. She claimed that the villa has been converted into a jail and all the windows have been kept shut since she got there. She went further to express how she wakes up scared every day, worrying about her life and whether she’ll survive to see another day or not, provided the police threatened to detain her in the prison for the rest of her life. In her words, “I’m scared I’ll never see the sun again.” This sounds horrific to even watch, let alone experience something like this. Princess Latifa recorded these videos on a phone that was secretly given to her after her capture and return to Dubai.
This is not the first time she has tried to convey out something like this to her friends and has tried to escape several times, the latest being in 2018, where her fitness instructor Tiina Jauhiainen helped her with the plan to flee through a boat. However, in her video messages, Princess Latifa explained how she fought back against the soldiers that were taking her off the boat, apparently biting one Emirati commando’s arm off until he cried in pain, kicking and fighting to oppose. However, she was drugged by the commandos and was carried back to Dubai through a private jet, unconscious, and has been kept imprisoned in a villa with no medical and legal help, closed doors and police men.
Before her 2018 attempt to escape, Princess Latifa shared a video on YouTube claiming if the people are watching this video, she is either already dead or in a very very bad situation. This sparked international concerns and called in actions from the United Nations to speculate the situations and ask for her release. The UAE came under intense pressure to account for Princess Latifa, even though she was not provided any sort of liberty under the ruler’ reign.
Her alleged kidnapping after her 2018 boat escape incident led to her being vanished and no source of her well-being or whereabouts came out until recently when the videos of her explaining how she was kidnapped and how she has been held captive in a villa since they came out recently and shared with the world via BBC Panorama.
After the videos were handed over to BBC panorama by the princess’ friends, the secret messages have stopped and her friends have requested the United Nations to step in and take action against the ruler of Dubai and Vice President of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum. The former UN high commissioner has expressed her concern and worry about the well-being of princess Latifa, and has thus joined calls for international action to establish Latifa’s current condition and investigation about her whereabouts. Tiina Jauhiainen, who gave the videos to BBC Panorama, along with princess’ maternal cousin Marcus Essabri and Campaigner David Haigh have started the Free Latifa campaign, demanding the authorities to take action and free the princess from imprisonment.
The 35-year-old princess’ safety is a matter of concern, especially after the videos of her being captive have been made public. As a result, the friends, who decidedly took the step to share the videos to BBC are asking for all sorts of help from United Nations to step in and ensure safety in detention, especially considering the criticism the ruler received with his respect to his wife, Princess Haya Bint Al Hussain, who fled to London in 2019. Panorama itself is conducting independent verification of the claims made and has been looking into the matter for all possible transparency.
The Ruler, Sheikh Mohammad, has even though succeeded to build a flourishing, successful city has received severe criticism time and again over the treatment of his daughter Princess Latifa and one of his wives, Princess Haya Bint Al Hussain. The rights activist claim how the province’s system lacks tolerance for any sort of dissent and the judicial system time and again has proved its nature to be discriminatory against women. There’s no denying that the ruler under his reign has left no chance of functional liberty for his daughters or his wives, where one report also goes to the extent of claiming that the ruler claimed for Princess Latifa to be a victim of Bipolar disorder, a disorder she doesn’t even have. Her wife after flying to London applied for protection order and non-molestation order from the Sheikh. Not just that, princess Latifa has also denied any medical, legal or psychiatric facility after being held captive despite continuous requests and her not so ideal condition.
The government of Dubai and UAE have not responded to any questions and concerns on the matter yet and haven’t commented on the princess’ current condition as well. We can only hope UN takes strict action and retrieves princess Latifa from that condition as soon as possible.