Woman who tried to help Princess Latifa escape: Mary Robinson’s visit ‘looked set up’

Radhika Sanghani
March 6, 2019, The Irish Times

Mary Robinson was criticised for becoming a ‘willing pawn’ in the Princess Latifa case

Escape attempt: Princess Latifa and her best friend, Tiina Jauhiainen, in a selfie on the first leg of their journey in 2018

“I wish I’d said something to her when they were taking her away,” Tiina Jauhiainen says, looking down at her now cold tea. We are in a cafe in London, but Jauhiainen’s mind is 8,000km away in the Arabian Sea, reliving the night of March 4th, 2018, when she tried to help her best friend escape from her family. “There were guns everywhere. Latifa was screaming and kicking. But I was paralysed with fear. I couldn’t say a word.” She pauses. “I just wish that I’d said, ‘I’m sorry this has failed.’ That I’d told her I love her.”

That was the last time that Jauhiainen, who is 42, saw Latifa bint Mohammed al-Maktoum, the 33-year-old daughter of Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, ruler of Dubai and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates. The women were captured and separately taken back to Dubai, the emirate from which they had been trying to escape. But while Jauhiainen was released after a fortnight, Latifa’s whereabouts are still unknown.

This week is the first anniversary of the escape. The women fled Dubai via car, dinghy and yacht, with the goal of making it to India. From there, Latifa could fly to the United States and claim asylum. The escape attempt had been planned over seven years.

Latifa wasn’t allowed to study, to work, to travel – or even to go to a friend’s house. She had curfews. She was treated like a child

“People think, She’s a princess, how bad could her life be?” Jauhiainen says. “She did have access to money, but that was just a distraction from her reality. She wasn’t allowed to study, to work, to travel – or even to go to a friend’s house. She had curfews. She was treated like a child. She used to get depressed if she had to spend a day at home. She didn’t even call her home a home. She called it a house and hated it.”

Jauhiainen, who grew up in Finland, had been living in Dubai since 2001, having moved there after graduating from Londo