Princess Latifa al Maktoum, the kidnapped daughter of Dubai’s ruler, has smuggled a series of haunting videos out of captivity describing herself as being held ‘hostage’ by her father.
Speaking publicly for the first time in three years, the 34-year-old royal prisoner describes in vivid detail how her dramatic 2018 escape attempt involving jet skis and a yacht ended in her brutal recapture and forcible repatriation.
The Indian authorities handed her straight back to her billionaire father who has held her against her will ever since, with his henchmen promising her she would ‘never see the sun again.’
In the most damming video, the Princess says: ‘I’m a hostage. And this villa has been converted into a jail. All the windows are barred shut.
‘There’s five policemen outside and two policewomen inside. I can’t even go out to get fresh air. So basically, I’m a hostage.’
Princess Latifa al Maktoum, the kidnapped daughter of Dubai’s ruler, has smuggled a series of haunting videos out of captivity describing herself as being held ‘hostage’ by her father
Looking pale and frightened, she described the moment when the yacht on which she made her failed escape attempt, skippered by a hired former French spy she had hired, was stormed by Indian troops at sea.
Eight days into the voyage the Sheikh’s military forces tracked her down 30 miles off Goa when the boat, Nostromo, was boarded by Indian special forces firing off stun grenades and tear gas.
‘I kept saying you can’t take me back,’ she recalled. ‘I want asylum and we’re in international waters. You can’t kidnap me. They were just on a mission and they were given orders.’
Latifa describes how she fought with two Emirati officers and bit one of them on the arm before her hands were zip tied and she was later tranquilised to keep her quiet.
She says: ‘The same guy who tranquilised me came and then he tranquilised me again on my left arm. They put me on a stretcher, and as they were carrying me up steps of a private jet is when I passed out.
‘When I woke up the jet had already landed in Dubai and I just felt really sad at this point. Everything I was working on for so many years to get my freedom was gone.’
The recordings were made at great risk to her personal safety and smuggled out of Dubai to her supporters in the UK who have her permission to release them in the hope it will secure her release.
The Princess – one of the Sheikh’s 30 children by six different wives – tells how she has been imprisoned and threatened with being shot unless she cooperates with the official statements issued by her father.
‘They want me to break and they want propaganda from me,’ she said. ‘They also threatened me that I’ll be in prison my whole life and I’ll never see the sun again.’
The new footage fully supports a High Court judge’s ruling last year that the Sheikh had ordered Latifa’s kidnap and imprisonment, first in Dubai’s grim Al Awir jail, then in the sealed villa.
The videos will also be a source of embarrassment to former Irish Prime Minister Mary Robinson who visited Latifa in a stage-managed meeting and declared her a ‘troubled young woman’ without asking if she was being held against her will.
Ms Robinson, also a former UN High Commissioner for human rights, was labelled a ‘willing pawn’ in the charade, after she described Latifa as being ‘in the loving care of her family’.
The meeting had been arranged by the Sheikh’s second wife Princess Haya who was to later flee from Dubai in fear of her own life after her affair with one of her bodyguards was exposed.
Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, right, with his estranged wife Princess Haya bint Al Hussein in 2017
Latifa said of Robinson: ‘She said I was mentally troubled. She said that I was a troubled young woman, and I had a serious medical condition and I was getting help for it.
‘That’s implying that I have psychiatric problems. She knew that I was okay. She lied and it was all a set up.’
All the videos were recorded in 2019 after a mobile phone was secretly smuggled into the villa where she is kept away from other members of the Dubai royal family and friends.
The Princess tells how her father, a close friend of the Queen, wants her to make a video where she says she is happy and living in Dubai voluntarily.
Latifa was able to secretly record the videos in the bathroom of her villa which is in the shadow of the Burj al Arab, one of the most famous buildings in Dubai.
She somehow made contact with her best friend, Finnish fitness instructor Tiina Jauhiainen, who took part in the failed escape bid, and lawyer David Haigh who together set up the Free Latifa campaign.
The United Nations Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances has called for Latifa’s case to be investigated.
The videos are being sent to the UN in the hope they will take a tougher stance against the Sheikh.
David Haigh, co-founder of the Free Latifa Campaign, told MailOnline: ‘These videos go right to heart of the lie that Princess Latifa is happy being held in Dubai. She makes it very clear she was kidnapped, and she is a hostage.
‘She has made these videos in the hope that the outside world will realise that she is being held against her will.’