An AMIRA – Deprived, Distressed, Chained, yet determined to Fly

Sheikha Latifa Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the daughter of Houria Lamara and Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the ruler of the Emirate of Dubai and Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). He is known for the transformation of Dubai and his constant efforts to put up Dubai as a world-famous destination, the Burj Khalifa, being one of his many magnificently glorious undertakings. He is a man with profound impact and a sterling reputation in the world but underneath this ambitious cloak of pipe-dreaming, lies the character of him as a family man, “with low morals and a drive to do anything and everything for his world-class reputation.” Princess Latifa has two sisters - one of them being Shamsa, who also tried to flee Dubai but got arrested later and she is in Dubai since then and another sister and a brother. Factually speaking, she has a large family, as her father has a total of 6 wives and 30 children which include Princess Latifa’s mother and siblings, and herself.

With the unfolding of events, it has become evident among the commonality that, all the glitter and glamour of being a real Princess can hide the forced and dictated life, one that Princess Latifa has been subjected to, that too by her father. It all started when she sought freedom from the dictatorship of her father, who took all the decisions for her such as the food they eat, the clothes they wear, a fixed time for going out and coming back, that too only to the places which are approved by him, deciding all about her education and every other choice that human beings have the right to make for themselves. Anyone reading this can empathize with Princess Latifa and comprehend why she wanted to flee in the first place. The first attempt she made at leaving Dubai was in 2002, when she was only 16, but she was caught at the borders of Oman and sent to a prison in Dubai for more than 3 years, where she was subjected to torture and inhuman treatment and all of it was authorized by her father.


Afterwards, she was brought back to the palace, and as a grownup, she sought to formulate a better plan with the help of her friend Tiina, a Finnish resident, along with a former French spy and naval officer, Herve Jaubert. She put this plan to action and was about to reach the coast of Goa, India when the Indian naval officers and UAE military force officers ambushed her boat Nostromo, assaulted her and the crew members, and took Princess Latifa, Tiina, and Herve to Dubai after drugging Princess Latifa and rendering her unconscious. When this issue grabbed the attention of the world media, the International agencies pushed the Dubai authorities. Tiina and Herve were released from the prison but the condition of Princess Latifa was kept hidden and as of now there is no knowledge to the world whether she is even alive or not.


Sheikh Rashid is currently engaged in a UK court battle with her ex-wife Princess Haya, regarding the custody of their kids, and the situation of Princess Latifa plays an essential role in the development of Princess Haya’s case. In two videos which were released on YouTube, Princess Latifa unearthed the allegations on her father, that he ordered the prison officials “to torture her until she dies”, and she is in “solitary confinement having zero access to healthcare and basic amenities like proper clothes and blankets.” In an apparent bid to make everything look normal, her stepmother also scheduled a lunch where she got Latifa and invited the former president of Ireland and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson. However, she told Latifa that this was a 'test' and she must behave well if she wants to be let out.

Meanwhile, Mary was informed that Latifa was suffering from bipolar disorder. So, neither of them talked about the condition of the princess and how she was living. The UN has been requested to step in, as Latifa's family maintains their stand that she is in "loving care". In one of the videos, the princess says: “The situation is getting more and more desperate every day and I am getting really, really tired of this now.” She is suffering just for wanting to be free and to live like a normal human being and yet all the conventions and communities formed for the rights of humans have no authority and neither have they been of any help in easing the pain that she is in. Her stepmother’s actions have depicted that instead of helping Latifa, she is only being part of the formalities being set up to show the world that everything is normal, while reality is in stark contrast.

The statements in her videos have brought up serious human rights infringement allegations on her father, which can be supported by the statements mentioned hereafter. Stating Article 7 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and any incitement to such discrimination”. Article 8, Article 9 , Article 10 , Article 13 , Article 14 , tells us that her human rights have not only been infringed in the current situation but also that they never existed in the first place for her, as she was not allowed to leave her own house under the rule of her father. She was not even considered for protection by the law of the land, let alone provided with legal assistance, remedy, or even a fair trial or hearing. Her detention was never justified and just pursued anyway due to the powerful influence of her father.

According to the provisions of the Constitution of the UAE, Article 26 , Article 28 , and Article 120 whether it is a matter as per Article 120 or not, it sure is a matter relating to foreign affairs, and yet the authority of UAE has not uttered a single word, despite the pressure of the United Nations. Sheikha Latifa never got a chance to plead in front of judicial authorities and she has been subjected to torture while being imprisoned for a crime unknown. All sorts of procedures have been buried in the earth, because be it procedures, authorities, evidence, justice, or Princess Latifa, everything is a total “no show”.

Enforced disappearance is defined by three cumulative elements:

  1. Deprivation of liberty against the will of the person;

  2. Involvement of government officials, at least by acquiescence;

  3. Refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of liberty or concealment of the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared person.

Thus, it is also unerring to say that the abduction of Sheikha Latifa can be the first step towards her “enforced disappearance”, which is being orchestrated by her father.

The UAE has signed and ratified the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhumane or Degenerating Treatment or Punishment, 2012, which includes the following articles, Article 1 – The definition of torture , Article 2 – Prevention of torture, Article 2(2) , Article 6(1), Article 6(2), “a State Party is obliged to immediately initiate a preliminary investigation into the facts”, and Article 12 – Prompt and impartial investigation, “A State Party must ensure a prompt and impartial investigation where there is a reasonable ground to believe that an act of torture has been committed in any territory under its jurisdiction”.

While in this case, there being no investigation or even mere recognition of it as a problem is out of bounds for the UAE authorities. There is not even a hint of any necessary actions, which should have been the focus, to free Princess Latifa from the cruelty, which she has admitted she is going through. Quoting the preamble to the UDHR, ‘‘Human rights are the foundation of justice, peace, and freedom’’, and none of these terms is being depicted in the actions and words of the authorities involved. Human rights are the threshold of dignity, peace, and honourable life, and the ignorance by UAE authorities of the existence of such rights has led to a severe loss in Princess Latifa’s psychological, physical and social existence.


Rather, the actions of the government and Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum are depicting that money and power still rule and can cripple the strength and vigour of all forces working towards the protection of human beings. It has also reflected that how important it is to segregate business and personal life and accomplish both to gain respect and dignity in society. No contention could support that Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid is not involved because the series of events which involve his wives leaving him or getting divorced, the mother of only Princess Shamsa and Princess Latifa being nearly unknown to the world and both of them fleeing, Randa Bin Mohammed al-Banna talking about the cruelty, Princess Haya fighting for the custody of her kids. All of it cannot be mere coincidences or lies.

To sum it all, All that Glitters is not Gold.


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