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UAE princess fled Dubai after learning 'disturbing facts' about Latifa's escape: Report

Princess Haya, a wife of the ruler of Dubai, is said to be preparing a legal battle against her husband in High Court
Princess Haya, 45, is reportedly living in a townhouse in Kensington Palace Gardens in London (AFP)

Princess Haya, who is married to Dubai's leader Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, is hiding in London after discovering "disturbing facts" about the disappearance last year of Sheikha Latifa, one of his daughters, the BBC has reported.

Over the past week, reports emerged that the princess - who is the daughter of the late King Hussein of Jordan and half-sister of King Abdullah - had fled the UAE to Germany with the help of a German diplomat.

But the BBC, citing sources close to the princess, 45, now reports that after initially seeking asylum in Germany, she is living at a £85m townhouse in Kensington Palace Gardens and is preparing for a legal battle in the High Court.

Sheikh al-Maktoum, 69, has reportedly filed an application against the princess in the High Court's Family Court Division that is scheduled to be heard on 30 July, according to a report in the Daily Mail.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum and Princess Haya meet Queen Elizabeth II on the first day of the Royal Ascot in 2008 (AFP)
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum and Princess Haya meet Queen Elizabeth II at the Royal Ascot in 2008 (AFP)

The couple are said to be close to the Queen and the British royal family, connected by a love of horse-racing and frequently seen together at Ascot.

According to the BBC, the princess had recently learned new information about the disappearance of Sheikh al-Maktoum's daughter, Latifa, and had come under increasing pressure from members of his extended family as a result. She now fears she may be abducted and rendered back to Dubai.

Sheikha Latifa, then 32, appeared in a YouTube video last March, announcing that she planned to flee the country in a bid for freedom from her father. 

She later escaped, with the help of a former French spy and Finnish confidante, by yacht off the coast of Oman, according to Escape From Dubai, a documentary film about her escape released in December.

Once aboard, the princess reached out to relatives, journalists and the activist group Detained in Dubai, with little response, and the boat was raided several days later off the coast of India.

The government in Dubai has maintained that Latifa's attempt to flee was a "private matter" that had been "exploited" by Qatar.

In December, several months after Sheikha Latifa's return to Dubai, Princess Haya, her stepmother, paid to bring Mary Robinson, the former Irish president who also once served as a UN human rights commissioner, to Dubai.

Haya, who was educated at Oxford University and is one of Sheikh al-Maktoum's six wives, previously worked in Ireland and is an old friend of Robinson's.

After the visit, Robinson told the BBC that the young princess regretted the video she had made and was "a troubled young woman".

But human rights campaigners criticised Robinson, saying she failed to answer critical questions lingering over the princess’s nine-month disappearance and meanwhile gave credence to a whitewashed version of events.

Last week, an Instagram account which appears to be linked to Sheikh Maktoum posted a poem, written in strongly worded colloqial Arabic and focused on themes of betrayal. 

"You've attacked, betrayed," says the poem. "You have no regard."

Middle East Eye has contacted the UAE embassy in London and London-based lawyers said to be representing both parties for comment.