Two years ago, Princess Latifa staged an escape from her repressed life in Dubai. It failed and she hasn’t been seen in public since. When we got in the car on the day of our escape, I turned to Latifa and said, ‘We’re like Thelma and Louise,’ says Tiina Jauhiainen, with a small smile at the bittersweet memory. ‘But then Latifa cried out, ‘No, no, don’t say that! Their story doesn’t have a happy ending.’’ That was two years ago, on 24 February 2018, the day that Princess Latifa bint Mohammed al-Maktoum, daughter of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, ruler of Dubai and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, tried to escape her life as a Dubai princess, with the help of her best friend Tiina.
The first wife of Dubai’s ruler says she was kicked out of the country when her marriage ended in the 1970s — and hasn’t seen her daughter since. When Randa al-Banna met the prince, she had no idea who he was. It was 1972, she was 16 years old and she had just been expelled from a convent school in Beirut after scandalising the nuns with her naughtiness. Instead of reciting the catechism, she was whiling away the summer going to the beach and spending her nights dancing to the Bee Gees.