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Princess Latifa said she'd rather die than return to Dubai

Sheikha Latifa has been missing since December [Getty]

Date of publication: 2 October, 2019

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Princess Latifa tried to escape Dubai but was taken back to the UAE following a commando raid of her yacht hideout.

Emirati Princess Latifa bint Mohammed al-Maktoum's last words before her alleged capture by Indian guards was that she would rather die than return to Dubai.

The daughter of Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum attempted to escape her home in the UAE with the help of her Finnish capoeira instructor and a former French Hervé Jaubert on 24 February 2018.

She was caught trying to escape the Gulf state by yacht by armed Indian coastguard eight days later and allegedly forced to return back to her father's home.

Tiina Jauhiainen, her Finnish friend who helped with her escape, said that Princess Latifa told the soldiers to shoot her rather than send her to Dubai.

"We were in our cabin when we started to hear these loud noises from the upper deck that sounded like gunshots. I thought they were going to kill me, whereas Latifa was acting extremely brave. She was telling them to leave me alone. Her final words were 'Don't take me back to Dubai just shoot me here'," Jauhiainen told the BBC's Victoria Derbyshire Show on Monday.

Derbyshire asked Jauhiainen whether Princess Latifa would rather die than return to her old life in Dubai. "Yes," said Jauhainen.

Princess Latifa's cousin, Marcus Essabri, told the BBC that he would like to know she's safe, given fears about her safety.

She has not been seen in public since December, when she was photographed with former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson, something activists dubbed as a PR stunt by Dubai's ruler.

"[I want to] see her with my own eyes really. That would be the ideal situation. Because the last time I saw Latifa she was a child - nine, 10 years old. So I think face-to-face that's when you can connect to the person and I can ask the right questions," Essabri said.

David Haigh, from the #FreeLatifa Campaign, said that the UK must do more to help the Emirati princess see freedom.

"Dubai and the UAE is different to a lot of countries in the Gulf, in the fat that they need ouir money basically. They need tourists from Britain to go there, they need families to sit on their beaches. They need British businesses," he said.

"So it's putting pressure on them - slowly, slowly slowly - so we hope see the release of Latifa."

Princess Haya, Sheikh Mohammed's wife and brother of Jordan's king, also fled the UAE for the UK, over claims of abuse.

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