The UAE is known to be a restricted country, especially when it comes to women’s rights and freedom. A recent video of a woman who claims to be the ruler and Prime Minister of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s daughter is garnering a lot of attention.
The woman identifies herself as Latifa Mohammed Al Maktoum, born on 5th December 1985 to one of the Sheikh’s six wives. She claims to have fled Dubai in an attempt to escape the torture and control of her father over her life.
According to a report in The Daily Mail, Latifa allegedly escaped from Dubai with the help of a French spy. She contacted an agency called Detained In Dubai before fleeing. She is currently hiding on a yacht off the southern coast of India, after which she is expected to seek asylum in the United States. She shared a copy of her passport and identity card with the Daily Mail via encrypted messaging services.
Before leaving from Dubai, Latifa recorded a 39-minute long video explaining her reasons to be taking this step. She had instructed her lawyer to release the video in case of her death or disappearance. As required, the video was posted on YouTube after she was reported missing from the coast of Goa.
Her last call to the founder of Detained in Dubai, Radha Stirling, was a nerve-wracking one where she begged Radha to help her. Radha 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.”
In the video, Latifa recalls the torturous life she had been subjected to since the age of 16. She was kept in solitary confinement for a period of three years and fourth months, during which her tormentors had orders to beat her to death.
It starts with her trying to prove her identity in as many ways as she can. From the number of siblings she has to the schools she attended and the activities she was involved in, she shares it all. The torture began in 2001 when her sister Shamsa was caught and brought back forcefully after trying to escape.
She even claims that she is not allowed to keep her UAE passport, she has a curfew, she is not allowed to drive, an assigned driver goes with her anywhere she goes, she is not allowed to go to another emirate without permission. She claims she hasn’t stepped out of Dubai since 2001.
She doesn’t have a social profile. Her social media accounts were taken down after her failed attempt to escape at the age of 16. But people have seen her and known her, so she urges them to recognize her and not discredit the video. She says,
“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.”
To conclude the video, she says,
“If I don’t make it out, I hope that some change will come.”
All countries have been notified about the missing pair – Latifa and her French ‘friend’. A website has also been set up to find the duo. Authorities are trying to verify the story. According to NDTV, India hasn’t officially responded to the case, but intelligence agencies have confirmed to NDTV that they are aware of it.
If true, the things that Latifa has spoken about has the potential to cause a lot of upheaval in the political world. She was really hoping that she doesn’t have to use this video, meaning everyone is safe. But the fact that we have it here means she is in real danger. If she really is who she claims to be and if her story is an authentic one, we hope the authorities find her and bring her to safety.