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Who is Princess Latifa of Dubai and who is her father Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum?

EMIRATI Princess Sheikha Latifa has not been seen in public after reportedly attempting to escape from Dubai earlier this year.

Her daring bid for freedom is the subject of a BBC documentary Escape from Dubai: The Mystery of a Missing Princess.

Who is Princess Latifa and who is her father?

Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed al-Maktoum is the 33-year-old daughter of the Dubai’s billionaire ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum.

The Sheikh is also Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and reportedly has several children from various wives.

In 40 minute video released her escape bid, Latifa said she had previously tried to leave the UAE aged 16 but was captured at the border, jailed for three years, beaten and tortured.

The princess laid out the reasons why she wanted to flee in the video.

She alleged her family had imprisoned and tortured her and she now wanted to escape the clutches of her father.

The Princess also said she was the daughter of the Dubai ruler and an Algerian mother, Horriya Ahmed.

How did she escape Dubai?

According to friends, she saved up £315,000 and contacted Hervé Jaubert, a former French spy and naval officer.

She learned he had escaped the Dubai authorities, because of a financial dispute, by putting on a burqa and then scuba diving into international waters.

A 2010 book he wrote Escape from Dubai, which prompted Sheikha Latifa to contact him, he said.

Together with Tiina Jauhiainen, her Finnish martial arts teacher and friend, she drove over the border to Oman where a dinghy and then jet skies took them to Mr Jaubert’s 100ft yacht called Nostromo.

But after a week at sea on the Indian Ocean, Mr Jaubert claims they were spotted and monitored by reconnaissance planes.

Then off Goa they were boarded by what appeared to be crew from the Indian coastguard.

The runaway princess was then dragged off the yacht by what were believed to have been commandos.

Ms Jauhiainen said she watched her friend being dragged away “kicking and screaming for her life”.

She has not been seen in public since and her Instagram account has been closed.

Relatives insist Sheikha Latifa is “safe” in Dubai and released a video of her at the end of last year at home with former Irish President Mary Robinson.

New plea for help

Recent reports have said Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein has fled to Germany and left her husband and the father of Sheikha Latifa – in fear of her safety.

Princess Haya is Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s sixth wife.

It’s understood that she has taken £31million to start a new life, requested asylum, and filed for divorce.

The Times reports that she is said to have been granted permission to remain in Germany with the couple’s children.

Campaigners have urged the Princess to intervene to secure Sheikha Latifa’s release.

Close friend Tiina Jauhiainen, of the Free Latifa campaign, who helped her escape bid, said: “Princess Haya has the chance to help.”

“We would urge Princess Haya to use her global power and influence to help free Latifa, who is and suffering because of her own father’s treatment of her,” she added.

“She may be a princess, but this is about freedom and equality. Equality, dignity and the right of self-determination for millions of women across the Middle East is at stake.

“We hope that Princess Haya and her children are safe and that she well use her new found freedom to speak publicly about what has really happened to Latifa and we would urge her to contact us and join our campaign.”

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