In February 2018, the 32-year-old daughter of the ruler of Dubai boarded a boat and set sail for India with a plan to start a new life in America. But within days her boat was stormed by Indian commandos – she was captured and presumably returned to Dubai. No one has heard from her since. But Princess Latifa had made a video in case she was caught and entrusted it to a lawyer in America. Days later it was released on YouTube.
This programme pieces together Princess Latifa’s life and reveals how she had been planning the escape for more than seven years. Far from living the charmed life of a princess, she was watched and restricted by her father, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. The princess claims she had been imprisoned and tortured for a previous attempt to leave. The programme investigates the mystery of her older sister Shamsa, who disappeared from the streets of Cambridge in 2000 after fleeing the family’s British mansion in Surrey. And it asks if the image of Dubai we are sold – of winter sunshine and luxury hotels, is actually hiding a brutal dictatorship of human rights abuses – where surveillance, imprisonment and torture are systematic and where tourists can easily be imprisoned for the slightest infringements of their ultra conservative laws.