The daughter of Dubai’s ruler says she is being held captive and fears for her life after a foiled attempt to flee the emirate, the BBC said on Tuesday as it aired undated cellphone footage of her pleading for help.
Sheikha Latifa has not been seen in public since an attempted escape by sea in March 2018.
The BBC footage shows her crouched in a corner of what she says is a bathroom, in clips that the broadcaster said were filmed around a year after she was captured and returned.
“I’m a hostage and this villa has been converted into a jail,” she says in one clip. “There’s five policemen outside and two policewomen inside the house. Every day I am worried about my safety and my life.”
In another clip, Latifa says her situation is “getting more desperate every day”.
The Dubai authorities did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Associated Press.
Latifa’s father, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, is vice-president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates, of which Dubai is a constituent part.
The videos were broadcast as Latifa’s friends voiced concern that secret messages from her have stopped coming, the BBC said.
The videos came from Latifa’s Finnish friend, Tiina Jauhiainen, who accompanied her during her escape attempt.
The BBC said it had independently verified the details of where Latifa was held.
In 2018, Latifa attempted to flee the UAE on a boat that was then intercepted by commandos off the coast of India, according to her companions and the UK-based group Detained in Dubai.
A Dubai government source later said that she had been “brought back” and the UAE released photographs of Latifa, saying she was receiving “the necessary care and support”.
In 2019, Sheikh Mohammed’s ex-wife, Haya Bint Al Hussein, fled to London, where she applied for a forced marriage protection order relating to their school-age children.
The Dubai emir subjected Haya to intimidation, a British High Court judge ruled last year, granting her application for the children to be made wards of court allowing them to live in London with her.
The judge also ruled that both Latifa and her sister Sheikha Shamsa, the emir’s daughters from a previous marriage, had been forcibly returned to Dubai.
He upheld Latifa’s account that she was detained at sea by Indian special forces and returned to Dubai.
Dubai has always insisted the princess was safe and with family.
The “Free Latifah” group called on President Biden to intervene, and for people to boycott Dubai.
A lawyer for the group said, “We need tourists to decide not to go to Dubai, and we need the world’s leaders to force Sheikh Mohammed to end this grotesque charade and put an end to a horrendous period of parental and human rights abuse that has disgusted the world.”
A photograph with the former United Nations high commissioner for human rights Mary Robinson went viral in December 2018 after it appeared to show proof of Latifa’s life, but Robinson now admits she was “horribly tricked”.