Skip to main content

Princess Latifa: Captive Dubai royal seen on holiday in Spain

Campaigners said there had been 'very positive' steps for Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed al-Maktoum's personal liberty
Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed al-Maktoum seen wearing a facemask at Madrid airport (Campaign to Free Latifa)

The allegedly kidnapped daughter of the ruler of Dubai has been seen in Spain in Instagram photos, with the campaign group supporting her saying there had been "very positive steps forward" in terms of her personal freedom.

Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed al-Maktoum had long been thought to be kept in a state of captivity by her father, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who is prime minister and vice president of the United Arab Emirates.

Last year, a British judge ruled that Sheikh Mohammed 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.

Stay informed with MEE's newsletters

Sign up to get the latest alerts, insights and analysis, starting with Turkey Unpacked


A new picture posted to social media on Monday by Sioned Taylor, a teacher based in Dubai, appeared to show Latifa and herself in Madrid airport, standing by a red suitcase.

“Great European holiday with Latifa. We’re having fun exploring!” read the caption under the photo.

In a statement, David Haigh - co-founder of the Free Latifa campaign and Detained International - welcomed what he called "very positive steps forward" in Latifa's case.

“We are no doubt joined by tens of thousands around the world that supported Latifa these last three years when we say we are pleased to see Latifa seemingly having a passport, travelling and enjoying an increasing degree of freedom, these are very positive steps forward," he said.

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

"I can also confirm that several of the campaign team have been contacted directly by Latifa. We cannot comment further at this stage, save to say that our only goal is to secure the present day and future safety and wellbeing of Latifa and that we are currently, and have been since May, seeking guarantees in that regard."

He added that his team were suspending their campaigning activities for the time being.

In May another picture posted to social media appeared to show the princess with two women in a mall in Dubai, one of whom was Taylor.

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.

In 2000, her sister 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 the letter in 2019, according to the BBC, while she was being kept in a beachside villa guarded by roughly 30 police officers.

Middle East Eye delivers independent and unrivalled coverage and analysis of the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. To learn more about republishing this content and the associated fees, please fill out this form. More about MEE can be found here.