Dubai: Why is Princess Latifa being held “hostage” by her father?

The UN and London had requested proof of life. The response from the United Arab Emirates was quick: Princess Latifa, daughter of the Emir of Dubai, is “Care at home”, “her condition is improving” and “We hope that she will resume public life in due course”. The press release, published on Friday February 19, is to be used to defuse the bomb dropped earlier this week by the British television channel BBC.

Several women, several attempts

In a video message recorded in secret from the toilets of her supervised residence and that the channel was able to obtain, Princess Latifa said she was taken in “Hostage” In a villa “Transformed into prison” By his father. “Every day, I fear for my safety and for my life. I don’t know if I will survive. The police threatened me, they said that I will be imprisoned for life and that I will never see the sun again. “

The videos were initially intended for her relatives and would have been shot in 2019. But without news of her, they decided to make them public to demand her release. Latifa Al Maktoum has been held by her family for almost three years after trying to flee her country by boat to India in 2018. She then justified her act in a video: “I am not allowed to drive, I am not allowed to travel, nor to leave Dubai, I cannot. I have not left the country since 2000. I have often asked to travel, to study and do normal things, they do not allow me. My life is very limited, I have to go.

Saudi Arabia: Loujain al-Hathloul released from prison

She is not the first woman of the Al Maktoum family to have tried to escape the grip of the Emir. Her older sister Shamsa also tried to flee to England in 2000 before being caught, ” drugged “, forcibly returned to Dubai and “Locked up”. She has not appeared in public since. The sixth wife of Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum successfully completed the operation in 2019, and found refuge in London with her two children.

Women’s freedom in the Gulf

These videos once again shine the spotlight on the issue of women’s rights in the United Arab Emirates and the rest of the Gulf countries, often obscured by the idyllic image of Dubai conveyed by influencers on social networks. “Princess Latifa is the top of the iceberg. But how many women are sequestered in their families without being able to move? “, asks Clarence Rodriguez, correspondent for 12 years in the Gulf countries (1).

Women are placed under the guardianship of a male member of their family: the father, the brother, the husband, the uncle or the son when they are widows. “They have to ask permission from men to work or travel. And although they are now allowed to drive, not all of them do. Tradition is still the force of law ”, develops the specialist.

Saudi women allowed to travel alone, feminists still repressed

The arrival of Joe Biden at the head of the United States seems to sign a new era for the rights of men and women. Recently, Saudi Arabia released Saudi feminist activist Loujain Al Hathloul as a pledge given to the new US administration. It still remains under judicial control. But hope for the release of the Emirati princess Latifa remains slim for the moment.


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