‘We nearly escaped Dubai, but commandos seized princess’

Lucy Jones, Helsinki
June 17 2018, The Sunday Times

Tiina Jauhiainen, left, with Latifa Al Maktoum

When Tiina Jauhiainen moved to Dubai from Finland in 2001, she thought she had found her place in the sun. The beaches were pristine, the cocktails flowed and work, as a sales agent in the booming property market, was easy to find.

Seventeen years later she lay tied up on the deck of a luxury yacht in the Indian Ocean, watching her best friend, Latifa Al Maktoum, 32, a princess from Dubai’s ruling family, being dragged away by a commando unit.

Jauhiainen was accused of kidnapping the princess, who she says had enlisted her help to flee from her family and life in a gilded prison.

Now back home in the pine forests of central Finland, she believes Latifa is locked up somewhere in the Gulf kingdom and is fighting to get her out.

“If it was a member of British royalty, something would have happened,” Jauhiainen told The Sunday Times in her first significant interview with a British newspaper. “But because it was in the Gulf, no one cares. I’m back now, and I’m asking people to listen.”

Jauhiainen, a martial arts expert, told their story in a wood-panelled lakeside cafe near her family home.

She had been living in Dubai for nine years when she received an email from a woman asking for lessons in capoeira, a Brazilian hybrid of fighting and dance.

Her new pupil turned out to be a daughter of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, the ruler of Dubai and vice-president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). He has homes in Brit