Escape From Dubai: The Mystery of the Missing Princess review – a shocking tale of complicity and betrayal

Rebecca Nicholson
December 6, 2018, The Guardian

Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed al-Maktoum vanished in February, apparently attempting to escape the UAE. This is the story of the tape she left behind

Princess Latifa … believed she would escape.  (Photograph: BBC)

Escape from Dubai: The Mystery of the Missing Princess (BBC Two) has already made headlines, and no wonder – it is an extraordinary documentary, and tells a story so astonishing that at times even its participants are forced to admit that events sound far-fetched. But its director and producer, Jane McMullen, has resisted the urge to focus only on the harrowing drama of what happened to Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed al-Maktoum, and has instead made a film that asks bigger questions of itself and its viewers: issues of money, political alliances and easily won PR; on the staggering reaches of technology; and on family, complicity and betrayal.

Princess Latifa is the daughter of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai and the prime minister of the United Arab Emirates. She is one of 30 children, and the second who is known to have tried to escape from the “gilded cage” of her life. Her sister Shamsa ran away from a £75m Surrey mansion in 2000. Shamsa was captured weeks later in Cambridge and taken back to the UAE. After she alleged that she had been kidnapped on UK soil, the police officer put in charge of the case was denied permission to visit Dubai, and the investigation was dropped.

Latifa says her role as a PR coup for modern Dubai – she was fond of skydiving, which was reported as a sign of her freedom – is a sham. She says that