Who is the Sheikh of Abu Dhabi

judgment: Dubai rulers kidnapped daughters

For many, Dubai is synonymous with luxury shops and huge skyscrapers. For many a shopping and vacation paradise, for many others it is a popular stop-over airport on the way between Europe and Asia or Australia.

But Dubai also has another side. The most populous country in the United Arab Emirates is single-handedly ruled by Mohammed bin Raschid Al Maktum, the Emir of Dubai. The Sheikh is also Vice President, Prime Minister and Defense Minister of the powerful Federation of the United Arab Emirates, which also includes Abu Dhabi. The UAE is one of the most oil-rich countries in the world. You are one of the US’s most important allies in the region.

What it looks like on a personal level is on a different map. In 2018 allegations became known that the emir allegedly kidnapped his daughters. The two sisters, Sheikha Schamsa and Sheikhs Latifa, are apparently still being held prisoner in the emirate.

At least that is what a British court has now decided: The Emir of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Raschid Al Maktum (70), kidnapped two of his daughters and intimidated one of his wives. That emerges from several court rulings by the High Court in London, which were published on Thursday.

Allegation of torture

They confirm allegations by Princess Haja Bint al-Hussein (45), one of the sheikh's wives. According to this, he is said to have had his daughters, Schamsa and Latifa, kidnapped after trying to escape. In one case, the court even found torture. The two sisters have since disappeared from the earth.

The emir had tried to the last to prevent the publication of the judgments. They come from a legal battle with Princess Haja, who fled to London with her two children last spring. In essence, it was about a custody dispute. According to Haja's account, her husband threatened her more and more because she had expressed concern about the treatment of the emir's two daughters. She had also started an extramarital relationship with her British bodyguard. The court found the portrayal of the princess and other witnesses to be credible.

Daughters tried to escape in 2000, 2002 and 2018

Sheikha Latifa made a spectacular escape attempt in February 2018. The now 35-year-old woman tried to leave the country by rubber dinghy and yacht until she was finally stopped by a special detachment off the Indian coast and brought back forcibly, according to supporters of Latifas.

In a 39-minute video before she tried to escape, Sheikha Latifa tried to explain why she no longer wanted to live in a golden cage and also spoke about the "big ego" of her father, the ruler of Dubai. She accused him of killing for the preservation of his reputation. It was her second attempt to escape. After the first in 2002, she said she was detained in inhumane conditions which the court believed to be torture.

Her older sister Schamsa, 38, was kidnapped in Cambridge in 2000 and brought back to Dubai after trying to break away. After the kidnapping of Latifa, Princess Haja had publicly defended her husband. He had portrayed the incident as a prevented kidnapping and ransom extortion. She even invited former UN Human Rights Commissioner Mary Robinson to Dubai to show that Latifa was fine. The United Arab Emirates' Ministry of Foreign Affairs subsequently released photos of the meeting. However, after further meetings with Latifa, she began to have doubts. She eventually became a target of intimidation herself.

Haja said she was threatened with life. Twice she found an unlocked weapon on her head cushion. Another time a helicopter landed on their property and the pilot threatened to take them to a notorious prison in the desert.

Haja is the sixth wife of the emir and half-sister of the Jordanian King Abdullah II. She has meanwhile been given diplomatic status from Jordan. She is not the mother of the two kidnapped daughters. The sheikh has 25 children from different women. (apa, dpa)