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Home / World News / The failed escape: Sheikha Latifa’s doomed flight from Dubai

The failed escape: Sheikha Latifa’s doomed flight from Dubai

A British judge ruled that Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum had abducted Latifa - just as he had her elder sister Shamsa from England almost two decades earlier - and subjected her to inhuman treatment.

world Updated: Mar 06, 2020, 07:21 IST
London
Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed Al Maktoum, daughter of Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum
Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed Al Maktoum, daughter of Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum(AP)

Three years ago, in secluded corners of a sprawling mall in Dubai, Sheikha Latifa, the daughter of the emirate’s ruler, plotted with close friend Tiina Jauhiainen to escape her father’s clutches.

Their eventual plan was like a plot from a movie: Latifa disguised her appearance as the pair fled Dubai by car to the coast, took a dinghy and rode jet skis to a waiting boat which was to take the princess and her companion to freedom.

But it failed. They were captured off the coast of India after an operation by special forces and taken back to Dubai.

“The last time (I saw her), she was kicking and screaming and she was dragged off the boat. Her pleas for asylum were ignored,” Jauhiainen told Reuters in an interview in London in late January.

In a judgment published on Thursday, a British judge ruled that Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum had abducted Latifa - just as he had her elder sister Shamsa from England almost two decades earlier - and subjected her to inhuman treatment.

Jauhiainen gave a witness statement as part of the case and briefly appeared in court in London to confirm it was true.

“In making an overall assessment of the evidence relating to Latifa, I regard the evidence of Tiina Jauhiainen as being of singular importance,” the judge, Andrew McFarlane, said in his ruling, which described her as a “wholly impressive individual.”

The fitness instructor first met Latifa in late 2010 when she started giving her lessons in capoeira, a martial art, about five times a week.

They became close friends but she said Latifa was quiet and private. It was years before Latifa confided in her, revealing she had tried to escape Dubai in 2002 when she was a teenager and that she had subsequently spent three-and-a-half years in prison.

Reuters was not able independently to confirm Jauhiainen’s version of events, which she has recounted to media before.

“It was only around 2016 when she started telling me about her sister Shamsa and her escape and her own imprisonment,” said Jauhiainen, a Finnish national.

“I think she was very scared. She could have been imprisoned again.”

The government’s Dubai Media Office did not respond to a Reuters request for comment for this story.

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