Video of Dubai princess reveals details of her 'hostage' situation in police-guarded 'prison villa'

screenshot via youtube


(Telegraph) - Princess Latifa recorded the videos in the bathroom of a villa because it was 'the only door she could lock'

Video of Dubai princess reveals details of her 'hostage' situation in police-guarded 'prison villa'


By Gareth Davies, Breaking News Editor and Campbell MacDiarmid, Middle East Correspondent

A daughter of Dubai's ruler who tried to flee the country in 2018 said she is being "held hostage" in a guarded “villa jail” in secret videos she recorded a year after her escape attempt and released now by her friends in hopes of spurring pressure to free the princess.

In footage shared with BBC Panorama, Princess Latifa says she has been held against her will by her family since the yacht she was trying to reach India on was intercepted by Indian and Emirati commandos.

"I don't really know if I'm going to survive this situation. The police threatened me that I would be in prison my whole life and I'll never see the sun again," says Princess Latifa in a video filmed on a phone smuggled to her.

The 35-year-old daughter of Dubai's billionaire ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, Princess Latifa said the bathroom was the only room in the house she was able to lock and that she was under constant police guard.

The undated videos were reportedly filmed over several months about a year after her return to Dubai, the BBC said. The recordings have since stopped and her friends are worried about her welfare.



Little has been heard from the princess since she was forcibly returned to Dubai in February 2018 and her recordings include new details about the mission to capture her. These include that she resisted the commandos sent after her "kicking and fighting" until she was tranquilised. She even bit an Emirati operator on the arm until he screamed, she said.

Her account contrasts starkly with that of Dubai’s Royal Court, which said in December 2018 that the princess was happily back home in Dubai. “She and her family are looking forward to celebrating her birthday today (sic), in privacy and peace, and to building a happy and stable future for her,” the court said in a statement.

Amid rumours that the princess was being mistreated and perhaps even dead, the former president of Ireland Mary Robinson met Latifa for lunch at a family home in Dubai in December 2018, posing for photographs alongside her.

At the time the former UN human rights commissioner said Latifa’s family had asked her “to help with a family dilemma” and Ms Robinson repeated Dubai’s explanation for her escape attempt by describing her as “clearly troubled” person.

But Mrs Robinson now says she had been “horribly tricked” about the situation and has joined calls for international action to confirm the princess’ whereabouts and well-being.

She told the BBC she was incorrectly led to believe that Latifa had bipolar disorder but did not ask the princess about her situation because she did not want to "increase the trauma" of her "condition".

"I continue to be very worried about Latifa,” she told the BBC. “Things have moved on. And so I think it should be investigated."

It is not the first time Sheikh Mohammed has been accused of detaining his family against their will. In 2000, Latifa’s sister Princess Shamsa was reportedly abducted in Cambridgeshire and returned to Dubai after running away from the family’s estate in Surrey two months earlier as a 19-year-old. She has not been seen publicly since.

In March last year, a British judge found that Sheikh Mohammed was responsible for the abduction of Latifa and Shamsa and had also waged a frightening campaign of intimidation and harassment against his ex-wife Princess Haya after she had an affair with a British bodyguard.

In a "fact finding" judgment, Sir Andrew McFarlane, the president of the High Court Family Division, accepted claims the 70-year-old sheikh – who is on "friendly terms with the British Royal Family" – has for "two decades" used his "very substantial powers at his disposal to achieve his aims".

The damning ruling followed a protracted bitter child custody battle brought by the sheikh, although he declined to take part in the proceedings or attend court to give evidence.


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