Dubai ruler's daughter Shamsa was last seen in 2000, Latifa was kidnapped in 2018 and has not been seen since
Princess Shamsa and Princess Latifa, the two daughters of Dubai's ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, were abducted by their father for breaking free from his restrictive rein. UK's High Court on Thursday, in a historic ruling, stated that al-Maktoum, orchestrated the kidnapping of two of his children: One from the streets of Cambridge, and the other from international waters. The latest ruling has brought the case of the two sisters to the limelight with many wondering what really happened to them after they were abducted.
Princess Shamsa, who was taken from Cambridge, UK nearly 20 years ago, has not been seen in public since the incident. High Court judge Sir Andrew McFarlane, in a sensational verdict, concluded that Dubai's ruler is keeping both her daughters captive at one of his palaces. Shamsa's whereabouts were disclosed by her younger sister Princess Latifa, who in a chilling video released in 2018, had revealed that her elder sister was kept under medication to "control her mind" which "made her like a zombie."
Latifa, before attempting to run away from her father's tight rein herself, had stated that Shamsa "had been kept in the dark continuously for months, perhaps years. She could not open her eyes properly for a long time because she had not seen daylight for so long." She revealed that her sister had "tried to kill herself many times" and was kept a prisoner in a Dubai palace. Why would Rashid al-Maktoum dole out such grave punishment to his own daughter?
Shamsa, the "headstrong" princess, at the age of 19 in July 2000, reportedly became angry at her father for not letting her go to university. She reportedly escaped high-security at her father’s Longcross estate in Surrey at the time, where her family spent most summers. Disgusted by Dubai's human-rights record, she decided to leave the family for good and drove her black Range Rover to the corner of the grounds and escaped through a perimeter fence on to Chobham Common, according to the Daily Mail. Her abandoned car was found by staff the next day, launching a search operation with al-Maktoum flying in from his horse racing base in Newmarket.
With her father at the helm of the search, no trace of Shamsa was found except for her discarded mobile phone. The teenager had evaded capture by staying at a hostel in south London, however, her father's henchmen caught her outside a bar in Cambridge by tracing one of Shamsa’s friends’ phones. After her capture, the teen somehow managed to smuggle out a letter detailing her captivity: "I was caught by my father. He managed to track me down through someone I kept in touch with. He sent four Arab men to catch me."
"They were carrying guns and threatening me," she wrote. "They drove me to my father’s place in Newmarket – there they gave me two injections and a handful of tablets. The very next morning a helicopter came and flew me to the plane, which took me back to Dubai. I am locked up. I haven’t seen anyone – not even the man you call my father. I told you this would happen."
Reports state that she was flown to France by helicopter and was carried in a private plane to Dubai. Meanwhile, Longcross staff were made to sign confidentiality agreements forbidding them to discuss Shamsa's disappearance, a friend of hers claimed. British authorities were alerted of the abduction after Cambridgeshire police received a phone call from a British solicitor in March 2001. He said he was representing Shamsa and gave them details of the abduction. The details were then passed to then detective chief inspector of Cambridge CID David Beck.
"Kidnap is a major offense," Beck said. "It’s not every day that an allegation involving a head of state lands on a police officer’s desk." Beck contributed to the Thursday ruling by giving evidence of having interviewed Shamsa’s friends and many of the sheik’s staff, who corroborated several aspects of the story. The sheikh attempted to fool the police by saying that his daughter "felt constricted by the security arrangements that were necessarily in place around her."
"She was more vulnerable than other young women of her age because her status made her a kidnap risk. Her mother and I were extremely worried about her safety and wellbeing," he said. "I emphasize that her mother and I jointly decided to organize a search for her. When she was found, I remember our feeling of overwhelming relief that she was safe and had not come to any harm." Al-Maktoum's statement ultimately assisted in corroborating the allegations against him, confirming that he had conducted a search for her.
Meanwhile, Princess Latifa, who had leaked her sister's condition to the world in 2018, also attempted to flee from Dubai. At the age of 16, Latifa hired a yacht and its captain to help her flee her father. She was in her cabin below deck as they were nearing the Indian coast after a 1,500 mile journey across the Arabian Sea. It was at that moment, two speedboats appeared alongside the yacht, carrying 15 masked men armed with Israeli-made laser-pointed assault rifles who threw smoke bombs and stun grenades on board and entered the vessel. The captain, Herve Jaubert, and the crew were handcuffed at gunpoint. The armed men were Indian commandos sent there to bring the princess back to Dubai. Latifa reportedly locked herself in the bathroom and screamed that she would rather die than go back. However, she was taken into a speedboat and later sent to Dubai. That was the last anyone saw of Latifa until a shocking video emerged of her in February 2018.
Latifa, spoke in the dimly-lit video, in a hotel room with curtains drawn. She described her father as "one of the most evil men in the world," and labeled him as a "major criminal... responsible for a lot of deaths."
"‘It was constant torture, constant torture, even when they weren’t physically beating me up, they were torturing me. They would switch off all the lights. I was in solitary confinement by myself totally, and there’s no windows, there’s no light, so when they switched off the light, it was pitch black," she said in a video made before she attempted her second escape bid.
"They would switch it off for days, so I didn’t know when one day ended then the next began and then they would – they would make sounds to harass me and then they would come in the middle of the night to, pull me out of bed to beat me," she said. Armed men caught her in her second bid as she reached Oman with her friend.
The claims made by Latifa in the video were rubbished by Emirati authorities. However, those claims have now been found to be true by the British High Court.