Just two weeks ago, first daughter Ivanka Trump visited Dubai in a show of support for women’s rights. At the same time, a British court found, two of the Middle East Kingdom’s princesses are presumably imprisoned there, after being kidnapped and tortured at the behest of the kingdom’s brutal ruler.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum abducted his two daughters, forced them to return to Dubai, tortured them and began a campaign of intimidation against his now ex-wife, according to a damning “Fact-Finding” judgment by the English High Court court this week.
The claims were made by his now-ex, Princess Haya, who fled with the couple’s 11-year-old daughter and 7-year-old son last year and sought a protective order against him in London. Haya, 45, the sister of the King of Morocco and an Olympic equestrian, married the billionaire Sheikh Mohammed, 70, in 2004. She was his sixth wife — he reportedly has 23 children by them (including the two with Haya).
According to the BBC, the court “found Sheikh Mohammed to have been responsible for the abduction and forced return of two of his daughters from another marriage.” The two women are said to be under “house arrest” and held “in Captivity” in the Kingdom.
“As a head of government, I was not able to participate in the court’s fact-finding process,” Sheikh Mohammed said in a statement. “This … tells one side of the story. … I ask that the media respect the privacy of our children and do not intrude into their lives in the UK.”
Princess Haya was the third woman in the Sheikh’s family to try and leave him — and the only successful one.
Two of his daughters, Sheikha Shamsa al-Maktoum and Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed al-Maktoum, each separately tried to flee his iron grip in the past. Both were captured by Emirati forces and are said by advocates to be held in Dubai against their will.
Sheikha Shamsa hasn’t been seen publicly since her 2000 attempt to leave the family’s estate in Surrey, England. Shaika Latifa tried to escape two times, in 2002 and 2018. In the most recent attempt, she attempted a daring escape with the help of friends and a former French naval officer. To capture her, the Sheik sent the Emirati Navy on a high speed, open-ocean chase to intercept their boat in the Indian Ocean.
She left behind a damning YouTube video taken before her escape attempt, which surfaced in February 2019.
Latifa describes in the video being imprisoned, drugged and tortured for years after trying to help her sister Shamsa, and says: “If you are watching this video — it is not such a good thing. Either I’m dead or I’m in a very, very, very bad situation.”
Latifa has been seen once since her capture — in photographs released to the public in December 2018. Looking bloated, she was seated alongside former Irish president Mary Robinson in the Dubai palace. Robinson, who described Latifa as “troubled,” vulnerable and having a “very serious medical condition,” has since been excoriated for her “findings,” especially as Latifa appeared drugged in the pics.
The British judge in Princess Haya’s case found this week that Sheikh Mohammed “continues to maintain a regime whereby both these two young women are deprived of their liberty.”
As for Princess Haya, the court ruled that “the father has therefore acted in a manner from the end of 2018 which has been aimed at intimidating and frightening the mother, and that he has encouraged others to do so on his behalf.”
According to the BBC, Haya claimed a “campaign of intimidation” started after she began to doubt her husband’s claims of “rescuing” Shamsa and Latifah (as opposed to imprisoning them). It was also around the same time she started an alleged affair with her British bodyguard. The court believed Haya’s claims that a gun was twice placed on her pillow and once “a helicopter landed outside her house with a threat to remove her to a remote desert prison.”
After Princess Haya fled to England to live in a $104 million house in Kensington with her children, she received veiled threats from the Sheikh.
In May 2019 she claims he told her, “You and the children will never be safe in England.” He later published a poem titled, “You lived, you died” and generated “wholly inaccurate” stories about her in the media.
While the Sheikh may have been too busy to give evidence to the High Court, last month he hosted President Trump’s daughter, who headlined a two-day Global Women’s Forum in Dubai called “The Power of Influence.” In her keynote address, Trump praised the Persian Gulf region’s “significant reforms,” adding, “We know that when women are free to succeed … families thrive, communities flourish and nations are stronger.”
Not shown at the conference was this statement from Sheika Latifa’s video: “My father is responsible for a lot of deaths. He is a major criminal. there is no justice here, they don’t care — especially if you’re a female. Your life is so disposable.”
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