Thursday, August 5, 2021

Dubai princess says through law firm she is ‘free to travel’

In the statement attributed to her lawyers, Sheikha Latifa says she hopes she can live her life 'in peace without further media scrutiny'.

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An Emirati princess who previously said she was being held “hostage” in a palace said she is now free to travel, in a statement attributed to her by lawyers Wednesday.

In February, the UN human rights office sought assurances that Sheikha Latifa, daughter of Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, was alive after the BBC broadcast footage in which she said she feared for her life.

An image of Latifa apparently with a companion at an airport emerged on social media this week raising the prospect that she had been able to travel freely.

“I recently visited three European countries on holiday with my friend,” said Latifa in the statement issued by the Taylor Wessing law firm.

“I asked her to post a few photos online to prove to campaigners that I can travel where I want. I hope now that I can live my life in peace without further media scrutiny. And I thank everyone for their kind wishes.”

Sheikh Mohammed is vice-president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates, of which Dubai is one of the seven members.

His 35-year-old daughter made an unsuccessful attempt to flee the emirate in March 2018, escaping by boat with the help of friends before being hauled back. She had not been seen in public since.

AFP was unable to verify the latest image of her or when it was taken.

It was published Monday on an account belonging to a woman that British media have identified as Sioned Taylor, a former Royal Navy member.

It showed the two women standing side-by-side, wearing masks, in front of planes and airport terminal buildings.

A caption read: “Great European holiday with Latifa. We’re having fun exploring!”

In the comments section, the account’s handler responds “well spotted” to an inquiry as to whether the picture was taken at Madrid’s Barajas airport.

Dubai authorities did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the photograph.

Last month, the same account published two pictures purportedly showing Latifa – one in a restaurant and another in a Dubai shopping mall.

According to the BBC, friends of Latifa have said they recognised the two women seen in the mall image, and that the royal is acquainted with them.

A London-based group which has campaigned for her freedom had said the release of the photographs was encouraging.

In one of the clips released by the BBC that prompted an outcry, Latifa said “I’m a hostage and this villa has been converted into a jail.”

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