Former Irish president Mary Robinson says Dubai ruler's wife Princess Haya 'still her friend'

Former Irish president Mary Robinson says Dubai ruler's wife Princess Haya 'still her friend'
Former Irish president Mary Robinson has said her only friend among the Emirati leadership was Princess Haya, who she 'still considers a friend'.
3 min read
03 July, 2019
Mary Robinson has said she is 'still' friends with Princess Haya [NurPhoto/Getty Images]
Former Irish president Mary Robinson has said Princess Haya of Jordan, who allegedly ran away from her husband and ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, is still her friend.

Robinson caused a stir when she featured in photos with Maktoum's daughter Sheikha Latifa, who has only been seen once since she attempted to escape Dubai in 2018.

The former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said she was never friends with the leadership of the UAE except for Princess Haya, The Irish Times reported.

"I really have nothing more to say about that. I have never been friends, except with Princess Haya, one friend, who is still my friend," Robinson said when asked at the Irish Congress of Trade Union's biennial conference in Dublin on Wednesday.

Princess Haya bint al-Hussein, daughter of the late King Hussein of Jordan and sister of the current Jordanian king, has reportedly taken her case to a high court in London after fleeing her allegedly "abusive" husband last week.

The Jordanian royal has applied for asylum in the UK where she has links with authorities and owns an £85 million house near Kensington Palace, The Guardian reported. 

On Friday, Legal advocacy group Detained in Dubai said Princess Haya had fled her abusive husband.

The group's CEO, Radha Stirling, said they have received reports from sources close to the Jordanian and Emirati governments, that indicate the Emirati princess had escaped Dubai.

"We already know that Princess Latifa, Sheikh Mohammed's daughter, fled the UAE seeking asylum and alleging unspeakable abuse at the hands of her father. Now, it seems, Princess Haya, Sheikh Mohammed's wife, has also fled the country and sought refuge in Germany," Stirling said.

The Emiratis have allegedly made private requests to return the runaway royal to the UAE, though the UK's Foreign Office is dealing with the case as a private dispute.

The princess is believed to be concerned about her personal safety in the UK, The Guardian reported.

Sheikh Mohammed is ruler of Dubai and prime minister of the UAE, as well as being among the world’s wealthiest individuals.

Last week, the Dubai ruler wrote a furious poem titled "You Live And Die", thought to be an attempt to condemn the princess for leaving him.

Runaway daughter

But Princess Haya is not the first total to flee the al-Maktoum dynasty in recent years.

Sheikh Mohammed's daughter, Latifa, allegedly attempted to flee the kingdom in a high-profile saga in April 2018, after releasing a video detailing years of horrific abuse and torture she suffered at the hands of her father and the Emirati authorities.

Latifa's friends and supporters say commandos stormed a boat she was using to flee to India.

Latifa has been seen only once since, in a photo with former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson who visited the Al Maktoum family residence in December 2018, which critics called a PR stunt.

Princess Haya also appeared in the photo op, which Stirling says "damaged [her] standing in the human rights community".

"While we cannot speculate, Haya undoubtedly has witnessed, or experienced firsthand, the types of mistreatment alleged by Latifa, and decided to get out," Stirling added.

She also said that strong economic ties between UAE and Jordan may have prevented Haya from fleeing to her home country, which would have put pressure on her brother to send her back to the UAE.

Various reports over recent years point to the extent of torture and human rights abuses in the wealthy Gulf kingdom. 

Women from neighbouring Saudi Arabia have been making high-profile appeals for asylum in recent months, the latest being sisters Dua and Dalal who fled to Turkey earlier this month after escaping alleged rape, forced marriage and abuse from their relatives.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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