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In a BBC doc, we learn about Princess Latifa of Dubai, who claims she is being held prisoner by her father. Learn the chilling details of what led to this.

What happened to Dubai Princess Latifa? Relive her horrific kidnapping

The daughter of Dubai’s billionaire ruler, Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed Al Maktoum, who attempted to flee abroad in 2018 and hasn’t been seen since, has appeared in secretly recorded videos saying that she is being held prisoner. In a BBC documentary, Princess Latifa, who was last seen publicly in 2018, went into detail about her conditions and it’s all pretty horrifying.

Princess Latifa is the daughter of UAE’s Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. She was last seen aboard a yacht off the coast of India before a raid by Indian & Emirati forces took her back to Dubai. Previously, she tried to escape to Oman as a teenager, but was also captured and taken back to Dubai. If this already sounds pretty horrifying to you? Then it’s about to get worse. 

A hostage

In the BBC documentary, “The Missing Princess”, Princess Latifa doesn’t hesitate to mince words when sharing her situation, “I’m a hostage. This villa has been converted into jail. All the windows are barred shut, I can’t open any window . . . I’ve been by myself, solitary confinement. No access to medical help, no trial, no charge, nothing.” She secretly records the videos in a locked bathroom on a smuggled mobile phone.

A year after Princess Latifa was taken back to Dubai, her friend Tiina Jauhiainen was secretly reconnected with her, according to the doc. Jauhiainen was able to get a phone to Latifa, who has been secretly recording and sharing her circumstances with it. According to a press release from the BBC, they said:

“BBC Panorama has independently verified the details of where Latifa was being held hostage. She was guarded by around 30 police, working on rotation, both inside and outside the villa. The location is just meters from the beach. It is not known if she is still there.”

“Never see the sun again”

Jauhiainen also shared her concerns about her friend’s mental & physical well-being. She said, “She is so pale, she hasn’t seen sunlight for months. She can basically move just from her room to the kitchen and back.” The videos from Princess Latifa only appear to get bleaker as time progresses. In another video, she shares she may always be a prisoner.

“I have been here ever since, for more than a year in solitary confinement. No access to medical help, no trial, no charge, nothing . . . Every day I am worried about my safety and the police threaten me that I will never see the sun again. I am not safe here.” Princess Latifa’s current whereabouts are unknown.

A successful escape

In 2019, Jordanian Princess Haya bint al-Hussein, the sixth wife of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, successfully fled to London with her two children in tow. She is not the mother of Latifa, but feared her own children ages nine & 13 would end up kidnapped from her care. 

Princess Haya, however, did play a role in Princess Latifa’s current circumstances. In Dec. 2018, Princes Latifa was visited by former UN Human Rights Commissioner Mary Robinson, who called Latifa “troubled” and said she had “regretted” her escape attempt. This account by Robinson was criticized by human rights activists. 

In the doc, however, Robinson said, “I was misled, initially by my good friend princess Haya, because she was misled. Haya began to explain that Latifa had quite a serious bipolar problem. And they were saying to me, in a way that was very convincing: ‘we don’t want Latifa to go through any further trauma’

“I didn’t know how to address somebody who was bipolar about their trauma. And I didn’t really actually want to talk to her and increase the trauma over a nice lunch.” 

“The Missing Princess” aired Tuesday on BBC One. 

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