The daughter of the vice president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, has reportedly fled the Persian Gulf kingdom after being secretly jailed for three years and four months and drugged in hospital for her dissidence.
Sheikha Latifa, 33, says she didn’t have the freedom to live her own life in Dubai and had been kept incommunicado after a previous failed escape attempt as a teenager, British tabloid newspaper the Daily Mail reported.
The princess says she is one of 30 children the wealthy ruler of Dubai has with six wives, and that she managed to escape oppression in the strict Arab state with the help of a former French spy.
Latifa adds that she had not been allowed to leave the UAE since 2000. She was also not allowed to drive and had her movements monitored round the clock.
She said she did not have the permission to keep her own passport, and could not even go to another emirate without royal authorization.
The member of the ruling family of Dubai is purportedly on a yacht off the coast of southern India, and is expected to seek political asylum in the United States.
“I have left the United Arab Emirates but I am not out of danger. I am still far from being safe. I just hope everything goes okay as there are so many people helping me … get out [and that] everyone ends up okay,” she said in one of the audio messages sent to Mail Online.
Britain-based campaign group Detained in Dubai, which is working to help victims of injustice in the UAE, contacted Scotland Yard on March 5 and reported Latifa as a missing person.
Radha Stirling, founder of Detained in Dubai, said she was now gravely concerned for the princess’s safety.
“We have taken advice from several barristers, legal professionals and human rights charities about the matter, to ensure we act in an appropriate manner,” she said in a letter to Scotland Yard.
“We are gravely concerned about retaliation by the person or persons from whom the missing persons were fleeing when they went missing,” she added.