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Dubai Princess Vanishes

Sheikha Latifa, the princess of Dubai, has vanished.  A secretly recorded video from last year has found been found that offers information regarding her disappearance.  

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Dubai Princess Vanishes

Emily Sherman, Editor

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Unable to travel among the Emirates, confined by an early curfew, and under the constant supervision of her parents, it’s no wonder that Dubai’s princess Sheika Latifa bint Mohammed al-Maktoum went on a search for freedom in a world that restricts her every move.

Although running away from home is deemed impulsive, the 32-year old princess had made several requests to study abroad, only for her to be repeatedly denied.  Her passport had been taken away.  She was not allowed to stay over at friends’ homes, and neither they at the palace.  Realistically, this seems to be a twisted modern age Rapunzel story where humans wish to discover what has been kept from them.

In a secret video recorded a year ago, which racked up over two million views on YouTube, the princess states that, “There’s no justice here.  Especially if you’re a female, your life is so disposable.”

Sheika Latifa in her YouTube video. This is where she addresses the strict restrictions that define her life and expresses her hopes for the future.

Her escape was planned over the span of a few years in collaboration with a self-proclaimed French ex-spy and a Finnish capoeira*  trainer.  Setting sail on the Indian Ocean in a yacht, the princess had cut off all connection to those who know her. Although, it was cited that she had contacted an American friend (a skydiver) on What’sApp to let him know she was “gone for good.” It is assumed he had no knowledge of the ordeal as he messaged back asking if “this is a joke.”

*an Afro-Brazilian martial art that combines elements of dance, acrobatics, and music

What is the most twisted aspect of this story is that the family- the royal family of Dubai- home to a city of glitz, wealth, and commerce, released a statement that basically stated their daughter was “kidnapped.”  Not only is the statement false- but it is also revealing as to how intensely information is censored and falsified in certain parts of the world.

Perhaps her inspiration to flee Dubai arose from her sister, Shamsa, who escaped from her family’s security detail on a trip to England.  Her father (the ruler of Dubai and the prime minister of the United Arab Emirates) owns a large estate there.  Emirati personnel tracked down Shamsa to a street in Cambridge, and forced her into a car.  A Scotland Yard* detective interpreted the case as a kidnapping, but Dubai authorities refused to let him interview Shamsa, and the case was put to rest.  According to Latifa, her sister had been drugged into docility.  Horrified by her sister’s treatment, Latifa originally attempted to escape to Oman, but was brought back almost immediately, and held solitary confinement for over three years.  Family laws in Dubai allowed for Latifa to be pulled out of her cell to be beaten, deprived of medical care, and refused the request of a toothbrush.

*the territorial police force responsible for monitoring most of London

Although she was released at nineteen, Latifa was confined in a prison of wealth.  She found solidarity in skydiving.  Stefania Martinengo, her friend and skydiving coach, supposes that Latifa loved skydiving because, dropping into the sky, “you’re equal to everyone.” She also avoided the public eye, and while many of Dubai’s wealthy are active on several social media platforms, Latifa was hardly Googleable.

As she sailed towards India on the evening of March 4th, 2018 with Martinengo, the women were getting ready to go to bed belowdecks when they heard loud noises.  On deck, armed men who have been identified as as Indian and Emirati tied up Latifa and the rest of the people on deck, beating them up.

Sheikh Mohammed, her father, has still not addressed her escape.  On Christmas Eve, Dubai released the first public photos of Latifa since her disappearance.  Situated peacefully at the breakfast table, candid smile on face, Latifa is sitting next to the former president of Ireland and former United Nations commissioner for human rights, Mary Robinson.  When asked, Ms. Robinson concluded that Latifa was safe, but was receiving psychiatric care, calling her a “troubled young woman,” with a “serious medical condition.”

At the end of her YouTube video, Latifa states, “If you are watching this video, it’s not such a good thing,” she said in her video. “Either I’m dead, or I’m in a very, very, very bad situation.”  With the world being closed off from Latifa and she from the world, we can only hope that she is receiving the best possible care and that the truth regarding her true situation will be revealed.

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