Photos show Dubai princess, focus of UN concern, at malls


LONDON — Photos on social media appear to show a missing Dubai princess who months earlier described herself in a video as being held against her will out at two major malls in the city-state.

Images published by a woman identified in British media as former Royal Navy member Sioned Taylor show Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed Al Maktoum at the Mall of the Emirates at a movie theater there, as well as at a restaurant at Dubai Mall near the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building.

The photos corresponded to those locations, with the Mall of the Emirates image likely taken in May due to the film being advertised in it.

Taylor did not respond to a request for comment. The government’s Dubai Media Office did not acknowledge the release of the images.

The photos’ pedestrian captions belie the fact that United Nations experts and human rights activists had called on Dubai’s ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, to provide information on his daughter.

Sheikha Latifa, 35, had tried to flee the country in 2018 only to be detained by commandos in a boat off India.

Videos released in February by the BBC had Sheikha Latifa describing herself as being in a villa that “has been converted into a jail.”

“I don’t know when I’ll be released and what the conditions will be like when I’m released,” she says in one of the videos. “Every day I am worried about my safety and my life.”

The dramatic would-be sea escape and its aftermath intruded into the carefully controlled image maintained by the family of Sheikh Mohammed, who is believed to have several dozen children from multiple wives. Some of his sons and daughters figure prominently in local media and online, but others are rarely seen. Sheikha Latifa was widely known for her love of skydiving prior to 2018.

Sheikh Mohammed’s family life again became a public matter in 2020. Then, a British judge ruled the sheikh had conducted a campaign of fear and intimidation against his estranged wife and ordered the abduction of two of his daughters, one of them Sheikha Latifa. The ruling came in a custody battle between Sheikh Mohammed and his estranged wife Princess Haya, the daughter of the late King Hussein of Jordan.

Sheikh Mohammed also serves as the vice president and prime minister of the hereditarily ruled United Arab Emirates, a federation of seven sheikhdoms on the Arabian Peninsula.

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