“They have me kidnapped in a chalet that has been turned into a prison. All the windows have bars and I can't open them, ”says Latifa Mohamed al Maktoum, the daughter of the Emir of Dubai, in a video broadcast by the BBC's Panorama program. The sheikha, who tried to escape from her family in 2018 , has been sending clandestine recordings to several friends who accuse her father of holding her against her will and have now shared them with the British network. In these messages, Latifa says that the commandos who aborted her escape drugged her to take her back to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) .
Through these videos, the 35-year-old woman explains that when the men sent by her father They attacked the ship in which he was trying to flee, he put up resistance "kicking and fighting". He even bit one of them on the arm until he made him scream. She was then injected with a tranquilizer and she lost consciousness until the private plane in which she was transferred landed in Dubai, the best known of the seven emirates of the UAE federation .
Since then, she has been isolated in a chalet, without medical or of another type, guarded by two policewomen inside the house and five more agents outside. "I can't even go out for fresh air," he says. “I am recording this video in the bathroom because it is the only room that I can close with a latch. And on the door of my room I can close it, it does not have a key, ”she says scared in another cut.
Panorama identifies the friends who have provided the videos as her maternal cousin Marcus Essabri, Tiina Jauhiainen, the Finnish coach who accompanied her in his escape , and activist David Haigh . All three are the promoters of the Free Latifa campaign. It is not clear how they managed to get him a mobile phone with which they have been in contact until a few months ago. Their interruption seems to have motivated them to go to the BBC to request that the UN intervene in the case.
In 2018, Mary Robinson, who was the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and President of Ireland, already tried. The authorities' use of photos of her visit to Latifa and her unfortunate description of the princess as "a troubled young woman" left her in a bad place. She now admits on the show that she felt "horribly cheated" by the family and that she remains concerned about her situation. “I think it needs to be investigated,” he says.
In the wake of Robinson's trip, both the Dubai communication office and the UAE said Latifa was safe and in the care of her family. His father, Sheikh Mohamed Bin Rashid al Maktoum, has not commented on the case. However, Princess Haya, in her legal battle against the emir for the custody of the common children after abandoning him , alleged the kidnapping and retention of Latifa and her half-sister Shamsa (who also tried to flee years before) to reinforce her case and give him it was accepted by the British court where it litigates.
The coming out of the family dirty laundry has dealt a severe blow to the image of Sheikh Mohamed, who is vice president and prime minister of the UAE. The Emir of Dubai, one of the richest men in the world, relied on the success of his city-state to project himself as the most liberal and far-sighted leader of the Arab world. The situation of the women in her family reveals that there is more to marketing than reality,
Latifa says she fears for her life. “Every day I am concerned for my safety and for my life. I don't know if I'm going to survive this situation. The police have threatened me, telling me that I am going to spend the rest of my life locked up and that I will never see sunlight again, ”he says in another of the video clips. And little by little there is a growing desperation: “I am reaching a point where I am so tired of everything. It is like a circus. I don't want to be a hostage. I just want to be free. I don't know what they plan to do with me. I do not know. The situation is getting more desperate with each passing day. ”