The UN says UAE has not provided proof Dubai princess Latifa is alive

The UN says UAE has still not provided any proof kidnapped Dubai princess Sheikha Latifa is alive, two weeks after making the demand

  • UN officials asked for evidence after Latifa, 35, said she was being held captive
  • The BBC broadcast footage of the Dubai princess saying she feared for her life 
  • She has not been seen in public since a failed escape from the emirate in 2018
  • Dubai’s royal family insisted that Latifa was being ‘cared for at home’ last month 

The UN said Friday it was yet to see evidence from the United Arab Emirates that Dubai’s Sheikha Latifa was still alive, a fortnight after seeking proof.

The United Nations Human Rights Office had asked for evidence about the daughter of Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum after the BBC broadcast a video shot by Latifa saying she was being held captive and feared for her life.

Sheikh Mohammed is the vice president and prime minister of the UAE, of which Dubai is one of the seven emirates.

His 35-year-old daughter has not been seen in public since a foiled attempt to escape from the emirate in March 2018.

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has spoken to the UAE’s diplomatic mission in Geneva.

Princess Latifa al Maktoum, the daughter of Dubai’s ruler, resurfaced last month in a series of videos smuggled out of captivity describing herself as being held ‘hostage’ by her father

‘We’ve held discussions with representatives of the UAE government here in Geneva, but I don’t have any particular progress to report,’ OHCHR spokesman Rupert Colville told reporters on Friday.

When asked if proof of life had been received, he replied: ‘Not yet, no.’

The BBC said the clips it broadcast were filmed roughly a year after Latifa was captured and returned to Dubai, showing her crouched in a corner of what she says is a bathroom.

The undated videos were aired as Latifa’s friends voiced concern that they are no longer receiving secret messages from her, the BBC reported.

In a statement last month, Dubai’s royal family insisted that Latifa was being ‘cared for at home’.

‘Her family has confirmed that her highness is being cared for at home, supported by her family and medical professionals.

‘Sheikha Latifa continues to improve and we are hopeful she will return to public life at the appropriate time.’

A British arms dealer at the centre of a bribery scandal was used as part of a prisoner swap that saw Princess Latifa seized by Indian forces and taken back to Dubai where she remains a ‘hostage’ of her billionaire father.

Christian Michel was extradited to India from Dubai just weeks after Latifa was seized by Indian special forces off the coast of Goa in March 2018.

Latifa has endured a difficult relationship with her father over the years that has resulted in her trying to escape his kingdom twice, 

She attempted to escape from Dubai, once in 2002 and once in 2018, and says she is now being held captive by her father and has been threatened with being shot unless she cooperates.

Her sister Shamsa also tried to escape Dubai when she was 19 in 2000 because she was angry her father wouldn’t let her go to university and disgusted by Dubai’s human rights record. But she was also captured by men working for her father in England and returned to Dubai. 

The sheikh has denied all abuse claims made by his daughter, who is one of 30 children he has with six wives.   

Princess Latifa and her best friend Tiina Jauhiainen in a selfie on the road to Oman on the first leg of their journey in 2018

Stage-managed photos taken in 2018 showed Latifa posing with the former Irish president and UN high commissioner for human rights Mary Robinson

The United Nations has officially linked the extradition to Latifa’s capture and called for Michel, who is accused of accepting a £40million bribe to sell British-made helicopters to India, to be released.

A report by the UN Working Group of Arbitrary Detention – which says the charges against Michel are politically motivated – does not mention Latifa by name. 

The princess told how she was pinned to the ground and removed from the yacht that had been attempting to take her to a new life away from Dubai.

Latifa was later drugged and flown back to Dubai on the orders of her father Sheikh Mohammed Al Maktoum.

She has been held in a villa turned into a jail for almost three years while campaigners in the UK pressed for her release.

In one haunting video she described herself as a ‘hostage’ with little hope of ever being set free. 

Despite being asked for ‘proof of life’ Dubai authorities have refused to say what has happened to the runaway Princess and simply say she is being cared for her family.

India has never commented on its role in seizing Latifa and her best friend Tiina Jauhianen from the yacht Nostromo eight days into their escape bid.

Emirati security forces were able to locate the yacht from a GPS receiver on the yacht and asked the Indian government to help.

It is thought that Indian special forces who led the raid were told Latifa had been kidnapped.

Her pleas that she was seeking political asylum were ignored and she was taken by force. 

Timeline: Dubai’s ruler, and his ‘abducted’ princess daughters  

May 3, 1974 – Princess Haya born in Amman, Jordan.

August 15, 1981 – Princess Shamsa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum is born to Sheikh Mohammed, who has several wives.

December 5, 1985 – Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum is born.

Summer 2000 – During a visit to England, Shamsa runs away from her family and seeks immigration advice to try and stay in the UK.

August 2000 – Shamsa is taken from the streets of Cambridge by men working for her father. 

She is taken to her father’s home in Newmarket, before being taken by helicopter to France and then to Dubai. She has not been seen in public since. 

June 2002: The teenage Latifa makes her first escape attempt, but is captured on the UAE’s border with Oman and returned to Dubai on her father’s orders. She says she was subsequently held in prison until 2005.

2010: Latifa meets Tiina Jauhiainen, a Finnish martial arts instructor. They become close friends, and the princess later confides in her about her earlier escape attempt and what had happened to Shamsa.

2017: The pair begin plotting their escape. Tiina travels to the Philippines to meet a French former spy and naval officer, Herve Jaubert.

February 24, 2018: Latifa and Tiina escape by driving to Oman, where they board a dinghy to reach international waters before using jet skis to board the US-flagged boat Nostromo, captained by Jaubert.

March 4, 2018: The Nostromo is intercepted by commando units, ncluding Indian special forces, who kidnap Latifa and take her back to the UAE. 

February 16, 2021 – New videos come to light in which Latifa, speaking from a ‘villa jail’, describes how her father’s henchmen foiled her escape attempt and says she is being held ‘hostage’ 

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