UAE Ruler's 'Daughter' Claims to have Fled Dubai to Live Normal Life

Published March 11th, 2018 - 03:44 GMT
Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum (AFP/File Photo)
Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum (AFP/File Photo)

A mystery 'runaway princess' has claimed to have fled Dubai in an attempt to live a normal life understands.

The woman, who says she is the daughter of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum - the country's billionaire ruler - claims she doesn't have the freedom to live her own life in Dubai - and was secretly detained in prison for three years after a previous failed escape attempt as a teenager.

Sheikah Latifa Mohammed Al Maktoum claims she was drugged in hospital by doctors to stop her rebelling and causing trouble.

Latifa, 33, who says she is one of 30 children the wealthy ruler of Dubai has with six wives, has left the strict Arab state, she claims, with the help of a former French spy.

Latifa is understood to be hiding on a yacht off the coast of southern India and is expected to seek political asylum in the United States where she had made contact with a lawyer.

Prior to leaving she recorded an emotional video explaining in shocking details her reasons for wanting to escape.

She claims she has not been allowed to leave the country since 2000, is not allowed to drive and has her movements monitored round the clock.

Even though she is in her 30s, Latifa says he has to adhere to a strict curfew and doesn't have the freedom others enjoy in the country that is one of he most popular tourist destinations in the world.

As well as the video she also sent a series of increasingly desperate voice messages outlining her reasons for fleeing.

In one message sent on the WhatsApp encrypted system she claims to be living in fear of being captured and taken back to the country.

'I have left the United Arab Emirates but I am not out of danger,' she said in one of the audio messages sent to MailOnline. 'I am still far from being safe. I just hope everything goes okay as there are so many people helping me to get out everyone ends up okay.'

Her father, the 68-year-old patriarch, is on close speaking terms with the Queen as over their shared passion for horse racing and meet at Royal Ascot each year.

But while he is well known on the horse racing circuit his family life in Dubai is a closely-guarded secret.

Latifa says she is the daughter of one of the less well-known wives of the Sheikh.

She says she has two other sisters and is the third daughter of the Sheikh that he has named Latifa.

She does not have a public profile and since allegedly fleeing the country her social media accounts have been shut down.

In the footage, Latifa speaks in a calm voice on the video as she explains her reasons for fleeing the country.

'I do not have the freedom that people have. Freedom of choice is not something we have,' she says in the video.

She said she is not allowed to keep her own passport and if she goes out in Dubai she has an assigned driver.

She says: 'I am very restricted, and cannot even go to another emirate without permission. I have not left Dubai since 2000.'

Before making her bid for freedom Latifa contacted the group Detained in Dubai who have used their extensive contacts in the United Arab Emirates to try to authenticate her identity and claims.

They say they have spoken to close associates of Latifa who have confirmed she is the daughter of the Dubai ruler and a member of the royal family.

They are also in possession of a copy of a passport, which states that the holder is a member of the ruling family of Dubai.

Latifa said after her failed escape attempt when she was 16 years old and her subsequent treatment she became suspicious of people and would spend all her time with animals.

'I did not have anyone I trusted,' she says. 'It took me years to recover from that experience.'

In an attempt to to prove her identity she lists where she went to school, her hobbies and begs people who have met her through horse riding and skydiving to verify her identity when they see the video.

'I am looking forward to a better life, a start of new chapter in my life. There is no reason to stay in Dubai and no reason to come back here,' she says staring straight into the camera.

The video appears to have been shot in a hotel room with Latifa sitting by a window with a cream coloured curtain.

While she remains composed during the film, her voice chokes with emotion.

She ends the video by saying: 'If I don't make it out, I hope that some change will come.'

Detained in Dubai contacted Scotland Yard on March 5 and reported her as a missing person.

David Haigh from the group - which is appealing for lawyers and investigators to offer their assistance - said they had made exhaustive inquiries to verify that the woman is genuine and not a hoax.

The plea for help began over two weeks ago when Detained in Dubai received an email from Latifa.

In one desperate message she says: 'Please help. Please please there are men outside. I don't know what is happening.'

In earlier messages she described how she had suffered while living in the Arab kingdom.

Since the last message on Sunday the group has not received any communication from her.

Radha Stirling, founder of Detained in Dubai, said she was now gravely concerned for the princess's safety.

She said in the letter to Scotland Yard: 'We have taken advice from several barristers, legal professionals and human rights charities about the matter, to ensure we act in an appropriate manner.

'We are gravely concerned about retaliation by the person or persons from whom the missing persons were fleeing when they went missing. '

Stirling said in the last voice mail she received Latifa sounded terrified.



She said: 'She appeared to be highly distressed and in a state of panic. She said 'Radha please help me, there are men outside' and that she had heard 'gunshots'.

'She said she was hiding in the bathroom, which I assumed to mean onboard the boat, with her (unidentified) 'friend'. I requested that she make voice recordings and videos and send as much information as she could.

'However, I received no response after this and only saw that she had been online intermittently for a few minutes after the call. I typed further questions but they remain unseen.'

Latifa is believed to be with a former French spy, who has a history of helping people leave Dubai on his US registered yacht.

He told Detained in Dubai he was with Latifa and expressed his fear they would be intercepted.

Latifa, who gives her date of birth as December 5th 1985, says she decided to flee the country after seeing how her elder sister attempted to escape in 2001. Shamsa al Maktoum was 18 years old when she allegedly went missing from the fabulously wealthy Surrey estate where the Maktoum family lived, according to reports at the time.

Latifa said her sister had wanted to break free and was 'on the run' for two months. A news report from 2001 said police launched an investigation into her alleged abduction from a street in Cambridge after being contacted by a solicitor acting for the teenager.

The police investigation was eventually closed down. Latifa said she wanted to get help for her sister and in June 2002 she attempted to flee from Dubai but only got as far as the Oman border when she was detained. She claimed she was brought back to Dubai against her will.

Latifa said she repeatedly asked to see her elder sister and she became so hysterical and upset that doctors had to sedate her.

'It got to point where they had to tranquilise me,' she says. 'They got a doctor to tranquilise me and then put me in hospital and tranquilised again I spent one week in hospital and lost my voice from so much screaming and lost a few days from all the medicines. Latifa claims she was subsequently jailed for three years and four months and immediately wanted to leave the country with the help of sympathetic friends.

But she decided to stay in Dubai to be close to her sister who she claims is medicated so much that she has no control over her life. Latifa said she made the decision to seek a new life abroad last year after realising she can no longer help her sister who she claims is monitored round the clock and has no access to the outside world.

There are no published photos of Shamsa. In one of the audio messages sent to MailOnline Latifa said her sister was abducted from the street and pushed 'kicking and screaming' into a waitingcar.

A news report from the time of the abduction and published in The Guardian newspaper under the headline 'Strange case of the sheikh's daughter. It went on to detail how police in Cambridgeshire received a call about an alleged kidnapping with a woman claiming to be the Sheikh's daughter Shamsa describing how she was abducted against her will. Attempts to reach the Maktoum family by the newspaper failed and the article says it is not clear if any offence was actually committed.

Her reported father, who is best known in Britain for being one of the top racehorse owners, is credited with turning Dubai into one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. He succeeded his brother in 2006 to become the ruler of Dubai and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates.

Maktoum's greatest passion is horseracing and he is the owner of the Godolphin stables, which has produced some of the leading thoroughbreds in the sport.

Estimated to have a personal fortune of £15bn, in the last 15 years he has transformed Dubai into one of the most modern cities in the world.

Maktoum was behind the Palm Islands, the Burj Al-Arab hotel, the Burj Khalifa skyscraper that dominates the skyline of the city. He also helped start Emirates airlines, sponsors of Arsenal and Paris St Germain football teams. His first marriage was in 1979 and later wed the daughter of the King of Jordan.

A website for information on the missing woman has been launched.

This article has been adapted from its original source.


© Associated Newspapers Ltd.

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