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Explained: Who is Princess Latifa, why is she jailed by her billionaire father in Dubai?


New Delhi, Feb 18: In videos, that went online on Tuesday, Princess Latifa, the daughter of Dubai's ruler, has alleged kidnapping. According to Princess Latifa, she is being kept hostage by her father in a villa converted into a jail, and adds she has no access to medical aid.

An investigation, that was led by the BBC, revealed the videos, which were apparently recorded in a bathroom, were taken over the course of several months on a phone Latifa was given about a year after she returned to Dubai in 2018.

Explained: Who is Princess Latifa, why is she jailed by her billionaire father in Dubai?

Latifa's account of her capture and subsequent detention was revealed by her friend Tiina Jauhianen, her cousin Marcus Essabri and campaigner David Haigh. They are all part of a campaign called 'Free Latifa'.

Who is Princess Latifa?

Princess Latifa, or Latifa bint Mohammed al-Makhtoum, is the daughter of Dubai's billionaire ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum. Sheikh Mohammed is credited for transforming Dubai into one of the foremost destinations for business and tourism. He is also the President and Vice-President of the UAE.

In 2004, Latifa's mother, Her Royal Highness Princess Haya bint Al Hussein, married al-Maktoum and is his second "official wife". The ruler reportedly has a number of unofficial wives with whom he has had at least 25 children.

Princess Latifa was born in 1984. The princess tried to escape from the family residence in Dubai in 2002 when she was at the age of 16. However, she was easily tracked and brought back to the palace where she was allegedly detained by her father for over three years.

In 2018, Latifa made a second attempt to escape when she met up with her friend Jauhianen at a coffee shop in Dubai. She and Jauhianen drove out of town and managed to cross the border into Oman. From there, she got on a boat and sailed into international waters.

After the ruler's wife Princess Haya fled to the UK in 2019 with two of their children, Sheikh Mohammed commenced proceedings in England and Wales under the jurisdiction of the London High Court seeking orders that his two children - Sheikha Al Jalila bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum who was born in 2007, and Sheikh Zayed bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum who was born in 2012 - return to Dubai.

Sheikh Mohammed's response to the court ruling has been that it tells only one side of the story. He insisted that the case was a private matter.

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