The Fugitive Princesses of Dubai
February 1, 2024 12:05 PM   Subscribe

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai, has been celebrated for modernizing the United Arab Emirates—espousing gender equality and promising to “remove all the hurdles that women face.” Building on a 2023 article describing how some women in the sheikh’s own family endured shocking mistreatment (Archive), and how foreign governments failed again and again to help them, the New Yorker has just released a new podcast telling the story of Sheikha Lafita, her sister Shamsa and their, so far unsuccessful, struggles to escape the control of their father, one of the richest and most powerful men in the world.

Heidi Blake, the journalist behind the investivigate work has also written about the vanished princesses of Saudi Arabia (Archive).
posted by roolya_boolya (7 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
well that was a harrowing read. those poor women, just trying to live with self-determination. they were not seeking anything radical or extreme, just freedom to live as they choose. Is Latifa really happy now? is she really free? it's impossible to know but the world spins on and no one is accountable for these abuses.
posted by supermedusa at 1:40 PM on February 1 [1 favorite]

Harrowing is the word for it alright. A thought that keeps running through my mind is if that is how the members of the ruling family are treated, then what happens to others who transgress the system. How many hidden stories like this one are out there?

Is Latifa really happy now? is she really free?

Sadly I think probably not. At best perhaps resigned but I fear not even that. The long history of her writing, conversations and videos suggest that she will not find happiness or safety in Dubai.
posted by roolya_boolya at 2:44 PM on February 1 [3 favorites]

it's just so awful to imagine that they completely broke her spirit and she has agreed to some terms and accepted her imprisonment.
posted by supermedusa at 2:51 PM on February 1 [1 favorite]

What else can she do?
posted by jenfullmoon at 5:48 PM on February 1 [1 favorite]

What else can she do?

Not a lot really. Unless outside help is forthcoming.
posted by roolya_boolya at 12:20 PM on February 2 [1 favorite]

Yeah, outside help...didn't really work out.
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:01 AM on February 3

I think it would need to be help at the diplomatic or state level. Or certainly a higher level than a small number of individuals.

Latifah's step mother, Sheikha / Princess Haya has managed to move to the UK and get a very generous divorce settlement and keep custody of her children, based partially on evidence of how Latifah and Shamsa were treated. Haya has the advantage of being part of the ruling family of Jordan, which I suppose helped her greatly in that endeavour.

One might hope she is somehow in the background at least trying to help her stepdaughters, especially since their treatments was one of the impetus for her to leave (and her role (apparently unwitting) involving Mary Robinson in the attempt to portray Latifah's escape efforts as due to mental illness).
posted by roolya_boolya at 12:49 AM on February 4 [1 favorite]

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