An Emirati princess who disappeared after witnesses described her being seized by commandos on a yacht had spent seven years planning her failed escape bid from the Gulf state she considered a gilded prison, according to her friends.
Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed al-Maktoum is the daughter of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, Dubai’s ruler and the prime minister of the United Arab Emirates. The 32-year-old has not been seen or heard from since she was grabbed by armed men about 30 miles off the coast of India in early March, according to witnesses.
The detailed planning for her doomed escape bid is laid out for the first time in a BBC documentary, Escape From Dubai, through interviews with a French ex-spy and Finnish capoeira teacher who say they helped her plan it, and the Filipino crew that say they tried to sail her to a new life.
Latifa is the second of the Sheikh’s daughters to try to flee a life of a caged luxury and then vanish after reports of recapture. Her older sister, Shamsa, was seized on the streets of Cambridge after fleeing the family’s Surrey estate in 2000, in an apparent abduction never fully investigated by British police.
Latifa herself said in a video recorded before her escape bid that she had previously tried to leave the UAE aged 16 but was captured at the border, jailed for three years, beaten and tortured. That experience, and that of her sister, meant she was careful in planning a second bid for freedom.