Middle East

Princess Latifa Case Exposes Extent of UAE’s Human Rights Situation

Foreign Policy Magazine said that “What the harrowing saga of a Dubai princess reveals about her country’s international reputation.

It mentioned that the slow drip of information on Princess Latifa—from her thoroughly planned, though ultimately failed, escape to her torturous captivity—has raised questions about Dubai, a tourist destination and business hub that has been known internationally for its culture of easy living and tolerance.

In a series of recently released videos, Latifa Al Maktoum, a Dubai princess who was missing for more than a year, recounted her harrowing capture by around a dozen commandos who raided a boat she was sailing 30 miles off the coast of India. After a struggle, one tranquilized her, and she fell unconscious. The princess eventually woke up, finding herself back in Dubai—the very place she had been trying to escape.

She now lives in solitary confinement in a villa converted into a prison, guarded by five male police officers on the outside and two female officers on the inside. She said they told her she would not be charged with a crime, but she would never see the sun again. Her captor, she said, is her father, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai, prime minister of the United Arab Emirates, and one of the Middle East’s most powerful leaders.

The basic facts of Princess Latifa’s ordeal are shocking enough on their own. But they have been especially surprising for anyone familiar with Dubai’s reputation as one of the region’s most progressive countries.

The magazine stated that Princess Latifa’s mistreatment at the hands of her father has focused attention on the chasm between the oil-rich city-state’s image as a safe haven for women and its dangerous reality, including for those from the most privileged households.

The tales of the princesses show that even the most progressive of the region’s rulers remain oppressive in their own households, and women cannot count on state-led reforms to protect them. Such brave women still need international outlets to help them pursue their rights or at least tell their stories. If seemingly privileged women like Princess Latifa are treated this way, what chance do other women in the region have?



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