UAE releases images of ruler's 'missing' daughter

UAE releases images of ruler's 'missing' daughter
The United Arab Emirates has released images of Sheikha Latifa following months of speculation about the princess' safety.
3 min read
24 December, 2018
Sheikha Latifa was allegedly forcibly removed back to the USE [AP screenshot]

The United Arab Emirates has released photos of a daughter of Dubai's ruler after friends and supporters of the princess raised concerns for her safety following an alleged failed attempt to flee her country months earlier.

The state-run WAM news agency carried a government statement on Monday saying the princess is "at home and living with her family in Dubai". Her father is Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai's ruler and the UAE's prime minister.

The government says Sheikha Latifa met with Mary Robinson, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, on December 15 at the family's request. Photos show the two women smiling in what appears to be a home.

Sheikha Latifa had previously appeared in a 40-minute video saying she was imprisoned off and on for several years and abused.

The princess  revealed rampant torture and abuse at the hands of her father Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum.

The release of the photos comes months after friends and supporters say she disappeared when commandos stormed a boat carrying her off the coast of India after she fled the Emirates.

The 33-year-old was reportedly aided in her failed escape attempt by Herve Jaubert, a former French spy, who provided his yacht to facilitate the journey. 

Jaubert says the princess was taken onto a helicopter and forcibly returned to the UAE.

Human rights organisations have raised concerns over Sheikha Latifa's fate in the time since.


Latifa's plight came to light after Detained in Dubai - which works on behalf of people caught up in the UAE's legal system - released a 40-minute video in which Latifa describes how she and her sister were held virtual prisoners by the family.

The video was supposed to be made public if her escape attempt failed.

"I'm making this video because it could be the last video I make," Latifa said in a haunting vlog.

"If you are watching the video, it's not such a good thing - either I'm dead or I'm in a very, very, very bad situation."

She explains that she was previously jailed after trying to free her sister, Shamsa, who has allegedly been held captive for 16 years - at the request of their father - when she tried to run away to London. 

After Shamsa's detention in 2002, Latifa wanted to free her older sister, she said.

Latifa, then 16, attempted to escape the UAE but was caught at the border, which led to her being imprisoned and tortured on her father's orders, she claimed.

"I think the first time was torturing me, I didn't feel any pain because I was in so much shock," she said, claiming her torturers were ordered to beat her to death. 

Despite surviving the torture, she suffered mental health problems, she said.

The plan for Latifa's escape attempt in March was to sail to Goa, then travel to Mumbai ahead of a flight to the United States, where she intended to claim political asylum.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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