Sheikha Latifa, the daughter of the Emir of Dubai who last February denounced being detained by her father, has released a statement asking that she be allowed to live her life “in peace, without further scrutiny” from the press. The request, through a law firm, follows the publication, last Sunday, of a photograph of the princess at the Barajas airport through the Instagram account of a friend.
The text of the statement is brief. Just three lines. “I recently visited 3 European countries on vacation with my friend. I asked him to post a few photos on the internet to show activists that I can travel where I want. Now I hope that I can live my life in peace without further media scrutiny. And I thank all your good wishes, “says the woman, according to the website of Detained in Dubai, the organization that three years ago reported her flight on a yacht and her capture by Emirati commandos off the coast of Goa. The law firm that issued it has confirmed to EL PAÍS that it is acting by order of the Sheikha.
It is a significant departure from those desperate messages broadcast by the BBC’s Panorama program last February that prompted the UN to ask the United Arab Emirates to give proof of the princess’s life. “They hold me hostage in a chalet that has been turned into a prison. All the windows have bars and I can’t open them, ”35-year-old Latifa Bint Mohamed al Maktoum said at the time. In another of the videos, he claimed to fear for his life.
“I don’t know if I’m going to survive this situation. (…) 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, ”he recorded on a mobile phone sent to him by the promoters of the Free Latifa campaign and whose content was provided to the BBC. These are Marcus Essabri (a maternal cousin), Tiina Jauhiainen (the Finnish coach who accompanied her on her escape in 2018) and lawyer David Haigh.
None of them have responded to EL PAÍS’s request to comment on the change in attitude of the Sheikha in just four months. For her part, the founder of Detained in Dubai, Radha Stirling, says that “there is no conclusive evidence whether Latifa is acting of her own free will.” That organization, which denounces the arbitrariness of Emirati detention laws and defends those caught in them, was the first to sound the alarm about the Sheikha’s case three years ago. But then differences in the management of the campaign led Haigh to create a new group.
“He is cooperating with his father and, allegedly, trying to return to public life while helping to reverse the reputational damage that [le] has caused”
Radha Stirling, fundadora de Detained in Dubai
Stirling admits that he has not had recent contact with Latifa, but claims that he has spoken with other members of the family. In his opinion, “he is cooperating with his father and, allegedly, trying to return to public life while helping to reverse the reputational damage that [le] has caused”.
The coming out of the family dirty laundry has dealt a severe blow to the image of Sheikh Mohamed Bin Rachid al Maktoum, who is vice president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates. 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 his family reveals that there is more to marketing than reality.
Latifa, is one of the thirty children of Sheikh Mohamed with several wives and one of the three with that name. In the initial video in which he told why he wanted to leave the country three years ago, he recalled the case of his half-sister Shamsa, who also tried to flee two decades ago. Last year, Princess Haya, the emir’s ex-wife, managed to get the London judge who is examining the case for the custody of her children to prove the accusations against him for kidnapping, torture and intimidation of women in the family.