Somewhere amid the shiny glass towers of Dubai the place Instagram influencers flaunt their our bodies and their riches, stands a villa on the seashore.
But that is no abnormal residence and its occupant will not be one of the pleasure seekers who flock to the Arabian emirate for its luxurious purchasing, nightlife and sandy seashores.
For this can be a jail and behind the locked doorways and barred home windows is Princess Latifa al-Maktoum, whose spectacular try to flee the nation of her delivery ended in her being drugged, kidnapped and incarcerated below armed guard in her ‘villa-jail’.
In a outstanding collection of haunting movies smuggled from her captivity, the 35-year-old daughter of Sheikh Mohammed-al-Maktoum, Dubai’s autocratic ruler — and horse-race loving pal of the Royal Family — has described how she is being held hostage by her father and in worry for her life.
The outstanding footage, obtained by the BBC’s Panorama additionally reveals particulars of how her dramatic 2018 escape, involving jet skis and a yacht, ended in her brutal recapture and compelled repatriation.
She says she was seized by gun-toting commandos who stormed her boat with smoke bombs and stun grenades, drugged her and returned her to Dubai the place her captors instructed her she would ‘by no means see the solar once more’.
Her determined bid to interrupt away from her suffocating life in the United Arab Emirates revealed the darkish underbelly of life below the absolute rule of Sheikh Mohammed.
Last year the High Court in London dominated that he had not simply ‘ordered and orchestrated’ the abduction of Latifa but in addition of a second daughter, Princess Shamsa, who was snatched exterior a pub in Cambridgeshire.
At the identical time the courtroom discovered he waged a marketing campaign of worry towards his sixth spouse, Princess Haya, 45, who fled to Britain final year with their youngsters, Jalila and Zayed, terrified for her security.
Princess Latifa has not been seen in public since December 2018, when she appeared in a stage-managed picture name with former Irish president Mary Robinson — labelled a PR stunt by some.
After that look in which Mrs Robinson declared the princess was ‘in the loving care of her household’ — remarks that triggered a storm — Latifa, who appeared to be below treatment, vanished.
Until now. Friends managed to smuggle a telephone to her and he or she started to secretly file movies about her seize. She filmed them in a toilet because it had the solely door she might lock.
Looking pale and frightened, she describe the dramatic second when the yacht on which she made her failed escape try, skippered by a employed French adventurer, was boarded by Indian troops after eight days at sea.
Princess Latifa al Maktoum, the kidnapped daughter of Dubai’s ruler, has smuggled a collection of haunting movies out of captivity describing herself as being held ‘hostage’ by her father
‘I saved saying you’ll be able to’t take me again,’ she recalled. ‘I would like asylum and we’re in worldwide waters. You cannot kidnap me.
They have been simply on a mission they usually got orders.’ Latifa describes how she fought with two Emirati officers and bit one of them on the arm earlier than her fingers have been zip tied and he or she was later tranquilised to maintain her quiet.
Desperate to start out a brand new life in the West away from the stifling conventions of Dubai, the place all girls should obey a person, she launched into an escape that had all the elements of a Hollywood blockbuster.
Smuggled from one of her father’s palaces, she was pushed throughout the border into Oman from the place she took a dinghy off the coast of the capital Muscat into the Arabian Sea.
There adopted a rendezvous with Frenchman Herve Jaubert, a spy who had as soon as escaped the UAE disguised in a burqa, and who was ready for her with jet skis. They then sped throughout the waves 15 miles to his yacht Nostromo.
But the 100ft-long vessel was being tracked and was ambushed as she neared the Indian coast.
Photos taken in 2018 and launched by the UAE ministry of international affairs confirmed Latifa posing with the former Irish president and UN excessive commissioner for human rights Mary Robinson
In her video messages, Latifa describes clinging on to the aspect of the vessel, earlier than being dragged off on to the Indian navy boat.
‘I used to be combating as exhausting as I might. My flip flops got here off so I used to be barefoot. I did not have any weapons. I used to be tied. I used to be up towards loads of individuals with weapons. It wasn’t simple,’ she says.
Once on the commandos’ boat she describes how she was restrained and drugged: ‘The one who was sitting on my abdomen, he grabs my chest and he says to me: ‘Shut up, shut up’, so I obtained actually, actually offended and I used to be hitting him with my fingers and screaming at him to get off me and I used to be so, so offended and I simply saved combating with him actually exhausting.
‘Nobody cared, however finally as a result of I used to be actually, actually, actually struggling loads, the different Emirati man instructed him: ‘Get off her’ and he sat on me and he helped the different man tie up my legs however I used to be combating.
‘This man got here with a small pouch, like a camouflage pouch and he took out a needle and he injected me in my arm.’
She handed out and when she got here to she was already again in Dubai. ‘I seen that my fingers have been like actually bruised and swollen, particularly my left hand, as a result of the zip ties have been nonetheless on me and I used to be nonetheless on the stretcher, nonetheless tied to the stretcher,’ she claims.
Dubai’s ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, on Derby day at Epsom in 2017 together with his estranged spouse Princess Haya of Jordan who later fled the nation in worry for her life
For three months the princess says she was held in the Al Alwir jail earlier than being transferred to the villa on the seashore.
In the movies she describes her solitary imprisonment. ‘I’m in a villa, I’m a hostage,’ she says.
‘This villa has been transformed in to a jail. All the home windows are barred shut. There are 5 policemen exterior and two policewomen inside the home. ‘I am unable to even go exterior to get any contemporary air.’
The recordings have been made at appreciable threat to her personal security and smuggled out of Dubai to her supporters in Britain who’re campaigning for her launch.
The Princess — one of the Sheikh’s 30 youngsters by six completely different wives — tells how she has been imprisoned and threatened with being shot until she co-operates with the official statements issued by her father.
‘I do not know once I will likely be launched .. . Every day I’m apprehensive about my security and my life, I do not know if I’m going to outlive.’
Princess Latifa’s ID Card which states her full title as Sheikha Latifa Mohd Rashed Almaktoum
She provides: ‘The police threatened me that I’ll be in jail my entire life and I’ll by no means see the solar once more.
‘I do not need to be a hostage in this jail-villa, I simply need to be free. I do not know what they’re planning on doing with me, I actually do not know.’
The movies will likely be a supply of embarrassment to Mrs Robinson who visited Latifa and following her meeting declared her a ‘troubled younger lady’ with out asking if she was being held towards her will.
Mrs Robinson, a former UN commissioner for human rights, now says she was ‘horribly tricked’ into attending the stage-managed meeting and had been stunned to see pictures of her ‘non-public’ meeting with Latifa launched to the media.
She stated she had been instructed the princess suffered from bipolar dysfunction and that she mustn’t focus on the situation with her.
‘I used to be deeply tricked when the pictures went public, horribly tricked,’ she instructed the BBC.
Pictured: Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum together with his sixth spouse, Princess Haya, 45, who fled to Britain final year with their youngsters, Jalila and Zayed, terrified for her security
‘I imply that was a complete shock. I used to be completely shocked.’ The meeting had been organized by the Sheikh’s now ex-wife Princess Haya, who was later to flee from Dubai in worry of her personal life after her affair with one of her bodyguards was uncovered.
In one video message Latifa says of Mrs Robinson: ‘She stated I used to be mentally troubled. She stated that I used to be a troubled younger lady, and I had a critical medical situation and I used to be getting assist for it.
‘That’s implying that I’ve psychiatric issues. She knew that I used to be OK . . . it was all a set-up.’
The secret messages emerged a few year after the princess’s recapture and are thought to have been filmed over a number of months.
Campaigners hope the movies will encourage the United Nations to press for the princess’s launch.
They emerged after she made contact with a pal, Finnish health teacher Tiina Jauhiainen, who took half in the failed escape bid, and a lawyer, David Haigh, who collectively arrange the Free Latifa marketing campaign.
Tiina first met Latifa in late 2010 when she began giving her martial artwork classes. Over the years, Latifa confided in her and in 2017 requested for assist in attempting to flee.
Speaking of the movies, Tiina stated: ‘She is so pale, she hasn’t seen daylight for months. She can principally transfer simply from her room to the kitchen and again.’
Mr Haigh stated: ‘These movies go proper to coronary heart of the lie that Princess Latifa is completely happy being held in Dubai.
‘She was kidnapped and is a held hostage. She has made these movies in the hope that the exterior world will realise that she is being held towards her will.’