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World A Dubai princess says she's being held hostage by her family following an attempted escape

12:38  17 february  2021
12:38  17 february  2021 Source:   businessinsider.com.au

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Kathleen Hanna who is smiling and looking at the camera: Princess Latifa attempted to escape from Dubai but was captured and returned to her father. Princess Latifa attempted to escape from Dubai but was captured and returned to her father.
  • After two years of near silence, new videos of Princess Latifa of Dubai have emerged.
  • The princess claims she's being kept against her will in a "villa prison" in Dubai.
  • Latifa tried to escape in 2018, but was captured by Indian commandos and returned to Dubai.
  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

Princess Latifa bint Mohammed al-Maktoum, the daughter of Dubai's ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, says she's being held "hostage" by her family and fears for her life.

In a newly-released series of videos recorded in secret over seven months and shared with BBC Panorama, the princess said that her family has held her against her will in a "villa prison" under constant police surveillance.

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Latifa first tried to escape Dubai in 2018. She and her friend Tiina Jauhiainen, a Finnish capoeria instructor, fled over the United Arab Emirates border into Oman, and attempted to sail a small inflatable boat into international waters.

But her plan was thwarted when a group of Indian commandos overtook the vessel and held her at gunpoint. She was sent back to Dubai and held in solitary confinement.

Latifa had previously tried to leave Dubai in 2002, when she was 18, in an attempt to help her missing sister Shamsa. Shamsa had been living in London but was kidnapped off the street in 2000, by men who were believed to be working for her father.

Latifa was caught, though, and sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison.

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In a video made before her attempted escape in 2018, Latifa said her father was "the most evil person I've ever met in my life. He's pure evil. There is nothing good in him."

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Now, she says, she's guarded by seven police and not permitted to go beyond the walls of the villa.

"Every day, I'm worried about my safety in my life. I don't really know if I'm going to survive this situation," Latifa said, according to a transcript provided by the British human rights lawyer David Haigh, who leads the campaign to free her.

Haigh told The New York Times the videos came to him via Jauhiainen, who said the slow trickle of videos from the princess had dried up toward the end of 2020, prompting her to want to release them.

A year after Latifa's failed escape, one of Sheikh Mohammed's wives, Princess Haya of Jordan, fled to London and began a custody battle with the sheikh over the couple's two children.

In addition to serving as the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed is also the vice president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates.

He is one of the richest men in the world and occasionally socializes with the British royal family, but has received low marks for the country's human rights record.

Messages to the government of Dubai and to David Haigh were not immediately returned.

The UN has requested proof of life of Latifa al-Maktoum, Princess of Dubai kidnapped by her father .
© #FreeLatifa campaign - Tiina Jauhiainen / David Haigh, via AP Undated screenshot from video showing Princess Latifa al-Maktoum speaking into a cell phone camera. The United Nations on Friday asked for proof of the life of Princess Latifa, the daughter of the ruler of Dubai, Mohammed ben Rached al-Maktoum, who says she is being held "hostage" and fears for her life in videos released by the BBC and Sky News.

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