When the princess once tried to escape, armed men caught her as she tried fleeing the country on a yacht and brought her back.
The last time Princess Latifa Al Maktoum was seen out in public was in March, 2018, on a yacht off the coast of India. Back then, she had attempted to escape the UAE, but two people who helped plan her escape plot revealed that her yacht was raided by Indian and Emirati forces, after which she was dragged back to Dubai.
Since then, the princess of Dubai has reportedly been sending out video messages to her friends after secretly recording them from a bathroom out of fear for her own life. In the videos, the princess claimed that she was drugged by the commandos who caught her during her escape and they flew her back to the country, according to footage that BBC Panorama acquired.
The news outlet reported that they independently verified the princess being held in a villa, which she described as a "jail."
"I'm a hostage. This villa has been converted into jail. All the windows are barred shut, I can't open any window... I've been by myself, solitary confinement. No access to medical help, no trial, no charge, nothing," said the daughter of Dubai's ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who is also the vice president of UAE and one of the richest rulers in the world, according to CNN.
In another video, the princess was quoted saying, "I have been here ever since, for more than a year in solitary confinement... Every day I am worried about my safety and the police threaten me that I will never see the sun again. I am not safe here."
One among the sheikh's 25 children, Princess Latifa had tried to run away from the country even as a teenager in 2002, but that attempt also backfired.
A video that the princess made before trying to run away in 2018 captured her saying, "I'm not allowed to drive, I'm not allowed to travel or leave Dubai at all. I haven't left the country since 2000. I've been asking a lot to just go traveling, to study, to do anything normal. They don't let me. I need to leave," according to BBC.
Sitting in the apartment of her friend, Tiina Jauhiainen, the princess spoke in the video about soon being free after their escape plan.
"I'm feeling positive about the future. I don't know how I'll feel just waking up in the morning and thinking I can do whatever I want today. I'm really looking forward to that," she said.
But their plan to sail across the Indian Ocean and then fly to the US did not succeed, and ended with the princess "screaming and kicking" while armed men restrained her, recalled Tiina.
"She kept saying 'don't take me back to the UAE. Just shoot me here," Tiina added.
Since then, she has remained isolated but eventually managed to send video messages to Tiina.
"I'm doing this video from a bathroom, because this is the only room with a door I can lock," said a pale and puffy-faced princess in one video. "I'm a hostage. I am not free. I'm enslaved in this jail. My life is not in my hands."
Over time, Princess Latifa's messages stopped coming and her friends have been pleading with the UN to take action. On the other hand, officials from Dubai and UAE have been saying that the princess is safely living with her family.
After BBC Panorama released the documentary, The Missing Princess, and released new footage of Princess Latifa, officials from the UN have pledged to make inquiries into the situation.
"We will certainly raise these new developments with the UAE," said Rupert Colville, spokesman for the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, according to The Washington Post. "Other parts of the U.N. human rights system with relevant mandates may also become involved once they have analyzed the new material."
Cover image source: BBC News/YouTube