Princess Latifa 'being cared for at home' after fears for her safety says Dubai royal family

19 February 2021, 18:11

This undated image taken from video in an unknown location shows Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed Al Maktoum speaking into a mobile phone camera
This undated image taken from video in an unknown location shows Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed Al Maktoum speaking into a mobile phone camera. Picture: PA

By Megan White

The family of Princess Latifa Al Maktoum say she is "being cared for at home" after self-filmed video messages from her Middle Eastern "villa jail" prompted widespread concern for her safety.

The 35-year-old claimed her father, the ruler of Dubai - Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, had held her captive since she initially escaped in 2018.

Video footage broadcast this week was described by Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab as "very distressing", and triggered worried responses around the globe.

But a family statement released through the United Arab Emirates (UAE) embassy in London has sought to downplay allegations of mistreatment, and said she "will return to public life at the appropriate time."

The statement said: "In response to media reports regarding Sheikha Latifa, we want to thank those who have expressed concern for her wellbeing, despite the coverage which certainly is not reflective of the actual position.

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

"She continues to improve and we are hopeful she will return to public life at the appropriate time."

Mr Raab this week said people would want to see that Princess Latifa is "alive and well" after she said in secretly recorded videos that she feared for her life.

The princess has accused her father, Sheikh Mohammed, of holding her hostage in Dubai since an attempt to flee the emirate in 2018.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the Government was "concerned" by the reports, but would "wait and see" how an investigation by the United Nations into the videos unfolds.

Video messages recorded on a mobile phone showed the princess crouched against a wall in a bathroom at the "villa jail" where she claimed to be being detained.

She said she was a "hostage" and that the villa "has been converted into a jail", with the windows "barred shut".

She added: "Every day I am worried about my safety and my life, I don't really know if I'm going to survive this situation.

"The police threatened me that I'll be in prison my whole life and I'll never see the sun again.

"I am really reaching a point now where I'm just getting so tired of everything... I just want to be free."

Last year, the High Court in London found that her father, Sheikh Mohammed, "ordered and orchestrated" the abduction and forced return to Dubai of Princess Latifa twice, in 2002 and again in 2018.

Sheikh Mohammed and the Dubai Royal Court have always claimed she is safe in the loving care of her family.