Godolphin stables Sheik ‘should be banned from Melbourne Cup and Everests’, activists demand

An explosive hostage video from the daughter of Dubai’s ruler Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum has put pressure on his racing interests in Australia.

Stephen Drill
February 21, 2021, Herald Sun

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The ruler of Dubai should not be allowed to race in the Melbourne Cup or Sydney’s Everest after his daughter claimed she was being kept hostage, human rights activists say.

Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, Dubai’s Prime Minister and owner of Godolphin stables, has been under pressure since his daughter Princess Latifa smuggled out a video this week.

A frightened Princess Latifa claimed that her father, who set up Emirates Airline, had kept her hostage and ordered her kidnapping on the seas off India three years ago when she had tried to escape on a yacht.

The sheik however broke his silence on Saturday, saying that Princess Latifa was safe.

“In response to media reports regarding Sheikha Latifa, we want to thank those who have expressed concern for her wellbeing, despite the coverage which certainly is not reflective of the actual position,” the UAE Embassy in London said in a statement on behalf of the family.

“Her family has confirmed that Her Highness is being cared for at home, supported by her family and medical professionals. She continues to improve and we are hopeful she will return to public life at the appropriate time.”

Sheik Al-Maktoum is one of the biggest investors in racing in Australia, having two runners in the Everest in Sydney last year.

And he spent 30 years, and $1.1 billion, trying to win the Melbourne Cup, finally having a breakthrough with Cross Counter in 2018.

Princess Latifa being held hostage. (Picture: BBC Panorama)

Racing New South Wales said that it would not apply sanctions to sheik Al-Maktoum because the claims were a civil matter, and there had been no penalty handed down.

Radha Stirling, who is from Melbourne but now based in London as CEO of Detained in Dubai, said racing authorities needed to review Godolphin’s role in Australian racing, following Princess Latifa’s claims this week.

“It needs to be said that this is not acceptable,” she said.

She added that sporting sanctions, such as a ban from the Melbourne Cup or Everest, were one of the few avenues available to put pressure on the sheik because he was protected by his position.

“There really is no way there can be criminal charges because he would have diplomatic immunity,” Ms Stirling said.

Melbourne Cup-winning jockey Kerrin McEvoy (centre right), his wife Cathy (centre) and his children Eva, Rhys, Jake and Charlie spend time with winner Cross Counter in 2018. (Picture: AAP)

Princess Latifa, 35, recorded the video in the bathroom of her Dubai villa in April 2019, which was aired on the BBC’s Panorama program this week.

“I’m hostage, I’m not free, I’m enslaved, I’m imprisoned in this jail, my life is not in my hands,” Sheikha Latifa said.

“Every day I’m worried about my safety and my life. I don’t know if I’m going to survive the situation.

“The police threaten me that I will be in prison my whole life and I’ll never see the sun again.”

The United Nations confirmed in December 2020 that Princess Latifa was being kept in “detention at her family home in Dubai”.

Princess Latifa, 35, recorded the video in the bathroom of her Dubai villa in April 2019, which was aired on the BBC’s Panorama program this week.

“I’m hostage, I’m not free, I’m enslaved, I’m imprisoned in this jail, my life is not in my hands,” Sheikha Latifa said.

“Every day I’m worried about my safety and my life. I don’t know if I’m going to survive the situation.

“The police threaten me that I will be in prison my whole life and I’ll never see the sun again.”

The United Nations confirmed in December 2020 that Princess Latifa was being kept in “detention at her family home in Dubai”.