Princess under house arrest: Who is UAE’s Sheikha Latifa?

On Tuesday, February 16, the British Broadcasting Channel (BBC) released a number of videos of Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed Al Maktoum in which she said that she was being held hostage at a ‘jail villa’ in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Her father, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, is the current Prime Minister and Vice President of the country.

Latifa had said in an earlier video that she and her brother, Sheikh Majid, had spent their early childhood with their paternal aunt. She was educated at the Dubai English Speaking School, followed by the International School Choueifat and one year at the Latifa School for Girls.

She is said to be an excellent and experienced skydiver, trained by former world champion Stefania Martinengo.

Latifa had attempted a daring escape from the middle-easterm country on February 24, 2018 when she and her Finnish friend Tiina Jauhiainen left Dubai in a car and crossed into Oman. They took jet-skis from there and met former French intelligence officer Herve Jaubert and his crew on the yacht Nostromo.

She alerted British human rights lawyer David Haigh of Detained International of her departure two days later. Jaubert made contact with an Indian journalist on March 3, 2018, in preparation for their arrival, but the yacht was intercepted by Indian authorities as they were approaching Goa.

The attempted sea escape and its aftermath threw the carefully controlled family image of Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed into public life.

On December 24, 2018, the UAE authorities released three low resolution images of Latifa meeting with former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson. The meeting was scheduled by Princess Haya, one of the UAE Prime Minister’s wives, as per Robinson.

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Robinson described Latifa as a ‘troubled young woman’ on BBC Radio 4.

However, Robinson’s comments were criticised by rights groups and Detained in Dubai’s head, Radha Stirling, for repeating the Dubai’s official version of the story almost word to word. Latifa’s representatives also questioned the nature of Robinson’s visit and called for an independent investigation.

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