Another UAE princess attempted to escape royal family: report

Another UAE princess attempted to escape royal family: report
A princess from the UAE's extended royal family is the latest to attempt to flee the kingdom, according to a 60 Minutes Australia report.
3 min read
04 June, 2020
Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed Al-Maktoum's daughter Princess Latifa attempted to escape two years ago [Getty]
Another Emirati princess allegedly attempted to flee the UAE royal family, 60 Minutes Australia reported on 17 May, reportedly inspired by the attempted getaway of her cousin, Princess Latifa bint Mohammed Al-Makhtoum, one of the daughters of Dubai's ruler.

In an undated video plea, shared by 60 Minutes, the young woman identified herself as Princess Maitha Al-Maktoum - not the Dubai ruler's daughter with the same name, but a member of the extended royal family.

Wearing a blue Calvin Klein t-shirt and displaying her identity card, the young woman spoke against loud music, which she said was "background noise", because she did not want to risk anyone hearing her speak.

"I am thinking of leaving tonight," she said in a shaky voice. "Why? I just can't stand it. I just cannot stand it."

"I'm sick of my parents, I feel like..." she trailed off, before getting visibly emotional.

60 Minutes said the footage was sent to lawyer and human rights activist David Haigh, who attributed the young woman's plea to the UAE's "archaic system of male guardianship".

"It's the same story," Haigh told 60 Minutes. "It was the essentially male guardianship system where she wasn't allowed to live the life that she sees all the western women that are expats in Dubai are living."

"It must be very [...] difficult for them, and understandably, many of them want to leave," he added.

Haigh said Maitha's escape attempt failed and he lost contact with her late last year, with her whereabouts remaining unknown.

Her attempted getaway was inspired by her cousin Latifa, Haigh added.

In February 2018, Princess Latifa - daughter of Dubai ruler and UAE Vice-President and Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed Al-Maktoum - attempted to escape the UAE with the help of her Finnish capoeira instructor Tiina Jauhiainen and former French Navy officer Hervé Jaubert.

She was caught by armed Indian coastguards a little over a week after her attempt and allegedly forced to return to her father's home.

Jauhiainen said that Latifa told the soldiers to shoot her rather than send her to Dubai.

The princess' final words before her apprehension were "Don't take me back to Dubai, just shoot me here", Jauhiainen told the BBC.

Princess Latifa has not been seen in public since December 2018, when she was photographed with former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and former President Ireland Mary Robinson. Activists dubbed the photo-op as a PR stunt by Dubai's ruler.

Latifa and Maitha are not the first members of the UAE's royal family to seek a way out of the emirates.

Sheikh Mohammed's ex-wife, Princess Haya bint Hussein, fled the UAE for the UK last year, with their two children allegedly fearing for her life.

In December 2019, a UK family court ruled that the Dubai ruler orchestrated the kidnapping of his daughters Princess Latifa and Princess Shamsa, in addition to subjecting his wife to a campaign of harassment.

Court documents unsealed this year reveal a testimony by Princess Latifa, who said she was subjected to torture that included isolatation and repeated beatings.

According to a March The Guardian report, British police said they were reviewing an investigation into the 2000 disappearance of then 19-year-old runaway Princess Shamsa from the streets of Cambridge.

"[Sheikh Mohammed's] house of cards has collapsed, and people are seeing the real divide," Haigh told 60 Minutes. "You now have multiple ex-wives speaking out publicly, you have daughters all trying to escape, you have serious, serious problems in the family."

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