It doesn’t help to be a princess in the Gulf

Anchal Vohra
July 18, 2019, Observer Research Foundation

Saudi Arabia, a regional ally of the UAE, is infamous for the treatment of its female population.

Being a princess in the Emirates is the last thing any girl would ever dream of. In July 2000, Sheikha Shamsa Al-Maktoum, one of the daughters of the ruler of Dubai and the Prime Minister of the UAE, attempted to escape from the family’s holiday home in England. She was located by the Sheikh’s men and has not been heard of since.

In February 2018, Shamsa’s stepsister Sheikha Latifa fled the UAE on a yacht and was found off the coast of Mumbai and handed over to her father. Her fate is as obscure as her sister’s.

The latest royal to run away from the palace of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum is his sixth wife Princess Haya Bint al-Hussein. She fled to the United Kingdom and is reportedly living at a prime property in London worth a whopping 85 million pounds, albeit in fear. She is also a half-sister of Jordan’s King Abdullah II.

While the princess herself has not yet officially revealed why she left the gilded abode of her billionaire husband, some reports suggested that she had found out about the treatment meted out to Latifa, the princess that Indian authorities delivered to the Monarch.

A pre-recorded message by Princess Latifa is seen as her testimony — dismissed as outlandish by the monarchy, but widely received as a spine-chilling account of what goes on inside the palace.

However, matters get further complicated as Princess Haya had once tried to assure the world herself that princess Latifa was being taken care of after she was brought back and her escape foiled.

But a pre-recorded message by Princess Latifa is seen as her testimony — dismissed as outlandish by the monarchy but widely received as a spine-chilling account of what goes on inside the palace.

“If you are watching this video either I am dead or in a very very bad situation,” she had said in the video she recorded before she escaped. “He is the evilest person I have met in my life. There is nothing good in him. He is responsible for so many deaths,” she added about her father, the Prime Minister and monarch.

A man who is not only duty-bound to guard the wellbeing of all his people but also sits on the hightable of global politics, called hits on people he does not like, imprisoned and tortured his daughters who dared to seek some freedom, said Princess Latifa.

This dark tale of palace intrigue has once again hit the international newspapers as his wife, Haya, fights a legal case against him in a court in the United Kingdom — both the Sheikh and his wife are believed to be good friends with the Queen of England.

The stories of these privileged women threw light on the lives of the women of not just the UAE but the Gulf.

The hearing in the case might be as early as later this month and possibly shed some facts about what forced princess Haya to leave. However, a poem posted in June by the Sheikh’s associates has further baffled observers.

“O you who betrayed the most precious of trust,

My sorrow revealed your game.

Your lie, let it be known, its time has passed.”

While the verse indicated towards a tale of betrayal, the reporting has alluded t