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Who is Princess Latifa of Dubai and why did she run away?


PRINCESS Latifa sent secret video messages to her friends saying she has been held “hostage”.

The daughter of Dubai’s ruler said she feared for her life as she was kept in a villa which was turned into a jail.

 Before her escape attempt, she appeared in a video in which she describes the reality of life in the Dubai royal family

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Before her escape attempt, she appeared in a video in which she describes the reality of life in the Dubai royal familyCredit: YouTube: Escape from Dubai

The secret messages, however, have now stopped – and her worried friends are urging the UN to step in.

Dubai and the United Arab Emirates previously said she was safe with her family.

Who is Princess Latifa of Dubai?

Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed al-Maktoum is the 35-year-old daughter of Dubai’s billionaire ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum.

The Sheikh is the Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates – and reportedly has several children from various wives.

In a 40-minute video released her escape bid, Latifa said she had previously tried to leave the UAE aged 16 but was captured at the border, jailed for three years, beaten and tortured.

The Princess laid out the reasons why she wanted to flee in the video.

She alleged her family had imprisoned and tortured her and she wanted to escape the clutches of her father.

The Princess also said she was the daughter of the Dubai ruler and an Algerian mother, Horriya Ahmed.

 Princess Latifa sent secret messages to fer friends saying she was being held hostage
Princess Latifa sent secret messages to fer friends saying she was being held hostageCredit: Enterprise News and Pictures

Where is Princess Latifa?

In a video she sent to her friends – which was obtained by BBC Panorama – Princess Latifa said she was being kept in a “villa jail”.

She said: “I’m doing this video from a bathroom because this is the only room with a door I can lock.”

The Princess explained she couldn’t lock the door to her room as there was no key.

The villa is believed to be in Dubai, according to BBC Panorama.

 Latifa said the couldn't open any window
Latifa said the couldn’t open any windowCredit: Enterprise News and Pictures

Is Princess Latifa of Dubai being held hostage?

Yes, she has accused her father of holding her hostage.

In a secret message to her friends, she said: “I’m a hostage and this villa has been converted into a jail.

“All the windows are barred shut, I can’t open any window.

“There’s five policemen outside and two policewomen inside the house.

“And I can’t even go outside to get any fresh air.”

She added she didn’t know when she would be released – and on which conditions.

Her worried friends, however, have said she stopped sending messages and are calling for the UN to step in.

 Jaubet wore a burqa to get to a rubber dinghy he bought under a fake name and fled to international waters

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Jaubet wore a burqa to get to a rubber dinghy he bought under a fake name and fled to international watersCredit: Herve Jaubert/Amazon

Why did Princess Latifa run away?

Princess Latifa said she wanted to run away due to her family background.

In a video, she accused her father of mistreating her and her sister Shamsa along with other serious charges, including murder.

According to friends, Princess Latifa of Dubai saved up £315,000 and contacted Hervé Jaubert, a former French spy and naval officer.

She learned he had escaped the Dubai authorities, because of a financial dispute, by putting on a burqa and then scuba diving into international waters.

A 2010 book he wrote Escape from Dubai, which prompted Sheikha Latifa to contact him, he said.

Together with Tiina Jauhiainen, her Finnish martial arts teacher and friend, she drove over the border to Oman where a dinghy and then jet skies took them to Mr Jaubert’s 100ft yacht called Nostromo.

 Sheikha Latifa (left) is pictured here escaping Dubai with her best friend Tiina Jauhianien

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Sheikha Latifa (left) is pictured here escaping Dubai with her best friend Tiina JauhianienCredit: Escape from Dubai
 Latifa is the daughter of the ruler of Dubai, Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum

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Latifa is the daughter of the ruler of Dubai, Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al MaktoumCredit: Alamy

But after a week at sea on the Indian Ocean, Mr Jaubert claims they were spotted and monitored by reconnaissance planes.

Then off Goa they were boarded by what appeared to be crew from the Indian coastguard.

The runaway princess was then dragged off the yacht by what were believed to have been commandos.

Ms Jauhiainen said she watched her friend being dragged away “kicking and screaming for her life”.

She has not been seen in public since and her Instagram account has been closed.

Relatives insist Sheikha Latifa is “safe” in Dubai and released a video of her at the end of last year at home with former Irish President Mary Robinson.

July 2000: Latifa’s older sister Shamsa escapes during a family holiday in their Surrey estate. A month later she is found by her father’s men. She is then flown back to Dubai on a private plane.

June 2002: Princess Latifa makes her first escape attempt at the age of 16. She is to get across the border of UAE and Oman but is caught and brought back to Dubai. She is imprisoned for three years and four months.

2010: Latifa meets fitness instructor Tiina Jauhiainen, they become close friends.

2011: The Princess contacts Herve Jaubert, a French businessman who previously escaped Dubai.

February 2018: Latifa is planning to escape Dubai.

February 24, 2018: Latifa and Ms Jauhiainen meet and then join Mr Jaubert. They plan to fly to India and then Latifa hopes to get to the United States and claim political asylum.

March 4, 2018: Their boat, off the coast of India, is boarded by special forces. Latifa is dragged off the boat. Ms Jauhiainen and the crew are detained in a high security facility in the UAE. Two weeks later, they are released.

December 2018: Latifa’s family say she is “safe in Dubai”. Some pictures of her are released.

April 2019: Princess Haya, the second “official wife” of Sheikh Mohammed, escapes Dubai to the UK.

2020: Lawyer David Haigh realises messages to Latifa are not getting through and contact with her is lost.

February 2021: Former UN human rights commissioner Mary Robinson says she is deeply worried about Latifa.


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