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Princess Latifa allegedly appears in Madrid photo

June 21, 2021

The princess hasn't been seen in public since she tried to flee Dubai in 2018. She is believed to be held against her will by her father, but has reportedly showed up in Spain on vacation.

Sheikha Latifa, daughter of the ruler of Dubai, is seen at the Adolfo Suarez Madrid-Barajas Airport terminal in Madrid, Spain.
Latifa is allegedly photographed outside the UAE for the first time since she attempted to flee in 2018Image: @SHINNYBRYN via REUTERS

Sheikha Latifa, one of Dubai ruler Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum's daughters, seems to have an increasing level of freedom, a lawyer from a group campaigning for her release said on Monday.

A picture surfaced on Instagram allegedly showing Latifa in an airport, months after she appeared in a video saying that she was held against her will by her father. 

What we know about the photo

The photo posted on the social media platform is believed to show the 35-year-old princess and a teacher named Sioned Taylor. A Madrid airport terminal is visible in the background. 

"Great European holiday with Latifa. We are having fun exploring!" Taylor wrote by the photo in which both are wearing face masks.

Dubai authorities did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Last month, the same Instagram account published two photos purportedly showing Latifa in a restaurant and in a Dubai shopping mall.

Sheikha Latifa (C) photographed with two women.
Taylor earlier posted a photo allegedly showing Latifa in a Dubai shopping mallImage: Sioned Taylor/via REUTERS

What Latifa's supporters say about the photo

The London-based 'Free Latifa' campaign said the release of the photograph was a positive sign.

"We are pleased to see Latifa seemingly having a passport, travelling and enjoying an increasing degree of freedom, these are very positive steps forward," said David Haigh, co-founder of the campaign.

"I can also confirm that several of the campaign team have been contacted directly by Latifa," Haigh said in a statement.

Sheikha Latifa (R) in a Dubai restaurant
Taylor had posted a picture that appears to have been taken in a Dubai restaurantImage: Sioned Taylor/via REUTERS

Who is Princess Latifa and why is the photo significant?

Latifa's father is the United Arab Emirates (UAE) prime minister and Dubai ruler. 

She reportedly attempted an escape from Dubai in 2018 but was stopped and forcibly returned home. She has not been seen in public since then, raising concerns by human rights activists and organizations.

In February, Latifa said in a video aired by the BBC that she was being held captive in a barricaded villa. United Nations experts then demanded that the UAE show "proof of life" and release the princess. 

The UAE embassy in London responded by saying Latifa was being cared for at home by her family and medical professionals, adding that she would return to "public life at the appropriate time."

In March 2020, a judge at London's High Court ruled that Al Maktoum had ordered the abduction of Latifa and her elder sister Shamsa.

fb/rt (AFP, dpa, Reuters)