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Princess Latifa: Image appears to show missing royal alive in Dubai mall

The unverified picture appears to show the princess with two women in a shopping centre in the emirate
The image shows face masks lying on the table, suggesting it was taken during the coronavirus pandemic (lyndabouchikhi/Instagram)

A photograph posted earlier this week on Instagram appears to show Dubai's Princess Latifa Al Maktoum, the daughter of the ruler of Dubai, who has not been seen or heard from in months.

The picture, posted two days ago, appears to show the princess, the daughter of Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, with two women in a mall in Dubai.

The image shows face masks lying on the table, suggesting it was taken during the coronavirus pandemic.

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Middle East Eye has been unable to independently verify whether the picture is real, or up to date.

However, a friend of Latifa's confirmed to the BBC that it was the princess in the picture.

The BBC said the appearance of the image was not random or accidental, but was related to other undisclosed developments.

In a statement, David Haigh, co-founder of the Free Latifa campaign group, said: "We confirm that there have been several potentially significant and positive developments in the campaign. We do not intend to comment further at this stage, a further statement will be issued at the appropriate time."

Last month, the United Nations sought a meeting with the ambassador of the United Arab Emirates in Geneva over the condition of Latifa and her sister Shamsa.

Last year, a British judge ruled that Sheikh Mohammed, who is prime minister and vice president of the United Arab Emirates, was keeping both his daughters captive and had kidnapped the two on separate occasions.

In 2018, Latifa escaped Dubai with the help of her friend, a Finnish capoeira instructor, Tiina Jauhiainen. Eight days later, when she had got as far as India's Malabar coast, Indian - then Emirati - forces violently boarded her boat and returned her to Dubai.

Secret videos

In February 2021, the BBC broadcast videos secretly recorded by Latifa and sent to friends abroad, in which she describes her capture and her imprisonment after her return to the emirate.

She said she was being held alone without access to medical or legal help in a locked villa guarded by police.

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In 2000, Shamsa fled from her family's Longcross estate in the UK in a Range Rover.

However, she was grabbed off the streets of Cambridge and flown back to Dubai by private jet.

In February, a letter from Latifa was handed to British police urging them to investigate Shamsa's kidnapping. In a handwritten letter given to Cambridgeshire police, Latifa said a new investigation could help free her sister.

Though it only reached British police in February, Latifa wrote her letter in 2019, according to the BBC, while she was being kept in a beachside villa guarded by roughly 30 police officers.

This article is available in French on Middle East Eye French edition.