Who is Princess Latifa? Dubai ruler's daughter claims guards tried to break her spirit with her razor blades

The UAE royal is an experienced skydiver, coached by former world champion skydiver Stefania Martinengo


                            Who is Princess Latifa? Dubai ruler's daughter claims guards tried to break her spirit with her razor blades
Sheikha Latifa is the daughter of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, prime minister of the UAE (Reuters/YouTube)

Princess Latifa's British lawyer David Haigh, of the Free Latifa campaign, has claimed that guards placed a bag of razor blades in her room and gave her an electronic stopwatch to count each passing day in an attempt to 'break her spirit', Daily Mail reported on Monday. The 35-year-old daughter of Dubai's ruler Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum, 71, accused her father of 'kidnapping' her and holding her hostage in 'solitary confinement' in a villa in Dubai after she tried to escape in 2018. 

The princess described, in secretly filed videos, how her attempts to flee saw her handed straight back to her billionaire father. Here's what to know about the princess.

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Who is Princess Latifa?

Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum is an Emirati sheikha and a member of the Dubai ruling family. Her father, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, is the prime minister of the UAE, and her mother, Huriah Ahmed al M’aash, is from Algeria. She married al-Maktoum in 2004 and is his second official wife. The ruler reportedly has a number of unofficial wives with whom he has had at least 25 children, according to Indian Express.

Sheikha Latifa and her brother Sheikh Majid spent their early childhood under the care of their paternal aunt. Her early education was at the Dubai English Speaking School and later at the International School of Choueifat, with one year at the Latifa School for Girls. She is the full sister of Sheikha Maitha, Sheikha Shamsa and Sheikh Majid. She also has two half-sisters with the same name.

The Sheikha is an experienced skydiver, coached by former world champion skydiver Stefania Martinengo, and held an accelerated freefall instructor rating. Her friend, photographer Juan Mayer, who’s also quite the whizz at jumping out of planes, describes Sheikha Latifa as one of his favorite subjects to photograph in the air, thanks to her dedication and energy for the sport.



 

 

In February 2018, Sheikha Latifa and her Finnish friend Tiina Jauhiainen left Dubai in a car and crossed the border to Oman. They took jet skis and joined American-French citizen and former French intelligence officer Hervé Jaubert and his crew on the yacht Nostromo. Two days later, she made contact with British-based Human Rights lawyer David Haigh of Detained International notifying him of her departure from Dubai. She also posted a few departing messages on her social media account, detailing the circumstances and reasons for her departure. Nostromo was intercepted by a joint India-Emirates operation on March 4, and those on board were forcibly returned from international waters near the Indian coast to Dubai.

An investigation led by the BBC revealed the videos, apparently recorded in a bathroom, which were taken over the course of several months on a phone Latifa was given about a year after she returned to Dubai in 2018. In the videos, Latifa speaks of how she tried to fight back against commandos when she was being captured and that she was “tranquilized”. She says since her return to Dubai, she has been held alone without any medical or legal aid.

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