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The New Arab Staff

Leading Emirati businessman suggests UAE human rights 'better than the West'

Khalaf Al-Habtoor's attack came after the broadcast of a recent BBC documentary. [Getty]

Date of publication: 23 February, 2021

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An Emirati businessman has said that the human rights situation is better in the UAE than in the West.
An Emirati businessman has suggested that the human rights situation in the UAE is "better" than in the West, after UK media reports on missing Dubai royal Princess Latifa.

Leading Emirati businessman Khalaf Al-Habtoor lashed out at the UK for "attacking" the UAE's human rights record, following the recent BBC report on Princess Latifia, the daughter of Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed Al-Maktoum. 

In the video, he questioned the UK broadcaster's motives in covering the disappearance of the Dubai princess and asked who was behind these "attacks" on the UAE.

"What is
#human_rights? Human rights include adequate housing, rights for children, education, economic rights, food, freedom of religion and belief, etc," he tweeted.

"If we compare what the West provides and what #UAE offers its citizens, the difference is huge," he said, with a video explaining his views.

UK authorities, the UN, human rights groups, and other European countries have sought information and reassurances about the welfare of Princess Latifa, who was the subject of a recent BBC Panorama report.

The programme included videos made by the princess where she describes being kept hostage and fearing for her safety.

Princess Latifa escaped the UAE in 2018, saying in a video that she was kept hostage in the country.

Shortly after, a yacht she was sailing on was raided by UAE commandos and Indian coastguard and she was returned to Dubai. She has been seldom seen since.

Following Al-Habtoor’s comments, other Twitter users were quick to clap back at the businessman. 

"And do not forget that the human being has freedom of expression and freedom to choose who governs him. Freedom does not stop at housing and food," one Twitter user said.

Jordan's Queen Noor took to Twitter to highlight the case of another missing Emirati princess, who has not been seen since 2000. 

Noor tweeted, "where is her sister, Shamsa??", in response to a Twitter post about the BBC's Panorama report on Princess Latifa.

Princess Shamsa, sister of Princess Latifa, fled her family while on holiday in the UK in July 2000.

After her escape, she stayed with friends in London but her freedom was allegedly short-lived when men snatched her off the streets of Cambridge and bundled her into a private jet back to Dubai. She has not been seen since. 

Read more: Beyond the glitz and glam of the UAE lies a sinister cyber surveillance state

In a 2001 letter to a British lawyer, which is believed to have been written by Shamsa, she said: "(My father) sent four armed Arab men to arrest me. They took me to my father's house in Newmarket, and they injected me and gave me pills."

"The next morning, they took me in a helicopter to the plane that took me to Dubai. I am detained until today. I do not see anyone, even the man you call my father," she added.

Queen Noor, wife of the late King Hussein of Jordan, is the longest-standing member of the Board of Commissioners of the International Commission on Missing Persons.  

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