“I’m making this video, because it could be the last video I make. Pretty soon, I’m going to be leaving somehow, and I’m not so sure of the outcome, but I’m 99% positive it will work.”
Those words are from a YouTube video recorded before the March disappearance of Latifa bint Mohammed al-Maktoum—the daughter of UAE Prime Minister Mohammed Bin Rashid al-Maktoum—who the Guardian reports tried to flee a life of “caged luxury.”
Deemed the “mystery of the missing princess” by the BBC, the 32-year-old’s story took a chaotic turn in March when, after what friends say was a seven-year plot to escape her “oppressive” life, Latifa was snatched from her escape yacht off of India by armed men. Latifa’s sister, Shamsa, had attempted a similar escape in 2000; it’s still murky what happened to her after she was apparently recaptured.
The Guardian and a new BBC documentary detail Latifa’s escape attempt, which reportedly began with a letter she sent in 2011 to a former French navy officer who’d escaped Dubai himself in the late ’90s after some legal troubles there.
A friend tells the BBC she was the one on the day of Latifa’s escape who drove the princess to Oman, then helped her get to a yacht at sea via inflatable boat and Jet Ski. Days after that, the ship was raided and Latifa disappeared; her Instagram was shuttered soon after.
“If you are watching this video, it’s not such a good thing,” Latifa says in the recording. “Either I’m dead or I’m in a very, very, very bad situation.”
In April, the Guardian quoted a source said to be close to the Dubai rulers who said Latifa had been returned home, was “with her family,” and was “doing excellent.”
(Human Rights Watch wants to know where Latifa is.)
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