Jordanian-born Princess Haya, a wife of the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed Al Maktoum, has absconded to London after it is said that she has fled for her life. She married the Sheikh in 2004, becoming his sixth wife.
Princess Haya, who went to boarding school at the prestigious Bryanston School in the UK, is believed to want to remain in England. She initially fled to Germany earlier this year to seek asylum, and it has been reported that she is now staying in an £85m townhouse in Kensington Palace Gardens, London.
A source has said that the Princess, who is the daughter of King Hussein of Jordan, is fearful of being abducted and returned to her husband. Furthermore, the UK has a close relationship with the UAE, which could potentially compromise her situation if the Sheikh demands her return.
Sources close to her have revealed that her move was prompted after she discovered “disturbing facts” about Sheikha Latifa, who attempted to flee from Dubai last year. It has been alleged that since then, Princess Haya – who had previously defended Dubai’s reputation after Latifa, one of the Sheikh’s daughters, tried to escape – has changed her stance about the case. It is believed that because of this, she started to experience hostility amongst the inner circles and no longer felt safe in Dubai.
Latifa had been planning her escape for seven years and wanted to get to the US to claim asylum. She was, however, intercepted on a yacht off the coast of India by armed men and promptly returned to Dubai in March last year.
Latifa’s friend, Tiina Jauhiainen, who had planned the escape with her and was with her at the time, said in an interview: “My hands were tied and I was taken to the side of the deck, where two men pushed me towards the water and threatened to shoot my brains out. Latifa was at the front. She kept repeating that she was seeking political asylum, but she was taken, kicking and screaming. Her last words were: ‘Don’t take me back – just shoot me here.’”
Jauhiainen said that she had no idea if Latifa was dead or alive until a photo of her was released many months later showing her sitting next to Mary Robinson, the former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. They were seated in an intimate setting in what appeared to be a private home where they were about to have a meal.
Latifa recorded a video before her escape, meant for release in the event of her capture. In it, she said that it could be the last video she made and that if the video was uploaded, then that she was either dead or “in a very, very, very bad situation.”
In the 40-minute video, she disclosed that the last time she tried to escape, she was tortured, beaten, held in solitary confinement in the dark for days on end, drugged and threatened with death. She alleged that on her father’s orders, she was jailed for over three years and that she was fearful of the same fate – if not worse – should her second escape endeavour fail.
She described her father as a “really, really disgusting, really disgusting human being” and stated that the way he is, in reality, is not what is portrayed by the media, since the media is often controlled.
She said: “A lot of people’s lives have been hurt. A lot of people tortured. A lot of people lost their lives. A lot of things happened, you know. He covers up a lot of murders. He doesn’t care – my father. He’s the worst criminal you can ever imagine in your life and he has this image of being so modern and all this bullshit.
“I have 30 brothers and sisters. He doesn’t – he only puts the pictures and he has his public image like he’s a family man. That’s all bullshit. He doesn’t. It’s just PR.”
She also claimed that her sister, Shamsa, who has not been seen since she also tried to escape in 2000, was kept drugged up most of the time and closely guarded. Shamsa was said to be in a “bad state” after her father’s minders kidnapped her off the streets of London and returned her to Dubai.
Latifa expressed that she wanted to get a passport once she left Dubai and to have freedom; she had not been allowed to keep a passport before. She also hoped that she would eventually be able to rescue Shamsa.