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How missing Dubai princess practised her escape



Footage of a missing Dubai princess scuba diving in her palace as she prepares to flee her family has been shared with Sky News, along with new pictures of the young woman.

Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum is the daughter of Dubai’s ruler.

In March, Princess Latifa fled the UAE and a video was circulated online in which she made allegations of abuse at the hands of her father.

Latifa and Tiina on the day of the escape. Pic: Detained in Dubai
Latifa and Tiina on the day of the escape. Pic: Detained in Dubai

Today, her 33rd birthday, marks almost exactly nine months since she was last seen.

Her case sounds stranger than fiction, but has been accepted by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, while the UN group on enforced disappearances heard evidence on her case earlier this year.

She attempted to escape with the help of French former spy Hervé Jaubert and long-time friend Tiina Jauhiainen.

Latifa (r) and Tiina feed lion cubs in the UAE. Pic: Tiina Jauhiainen
In a previously unseen photo, Latifa (r) and Tiina feed lion cubs in the UAE. Pic: Tiina Jauhiainen

After fleeing through neighbouring Oman, she made it onboard Mr Jaubert’s boat, The Nostromo, and set sail for the Indian coast.

The yacht was intercepted and those on board say they were beaten by armed men who boarded the ship and then detained in the UAE.

Both Ms Jauhiainen and Mr Jaubert say Latifa shouted that she was seeking asylum in India but was taken onto a helicopter. It is the last time they ever saw her.

“Latifa was determined to leave Dubai… She said it was worth taking any kind of risk as she had literally had enough of her life in Dubai,” Ms Jauhiainen told Sky News.

“She was looking forward to the day impatiently and when with me it was the only topic we would talk about along all the things she wanted to do when she had what she had always wanted, her freedom,” she added.

Dubai Crown Court say Latifa is alive and safe in Dubai
Dubai Crown Court say Latifa is alive and safe in Dubai. The princess is pictured here before her disappearance in a never before seen photo.
Latifa (c) has not been seen in nine months. Pic: Tiina Jauhiainen
Latifa (c), seen here in a previously unreleased photo, has not been seen in nine months. Pic: Tiina Jauhiainen

Speaking to Sky News, Mr Jaubert said: “Maybe Latifa did not make it. I’m not sure she is alive.”

In a statement to Sky News, the Dubai Ruler’s Court said: “We are aware and deeply saddened by the continued media speculation regarding Her Highness Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed al Maktoum. This private family matter has caused significant upset and distress for all concerned, most of all Sheikha Latifa.”

They add: “Her Highness Sheikha Latifa is now safe in Dubai.

“She and her family are looking forward to celebrating her birthday today, in privacy and peace, and to building a happy and stable future for her.”

Mr Jaubert said: 'Maybe Latifa did not make it. I'm not sure she is alive'
This new photo captures Latifa during happy times at her sky diving centre

Never before seen photos shared with Sky News show Latifa feeding lion cubs with Ms Jauhiainen, sky diving and spending time with friends.

As well as a video of Latifa laughing with Ms Jauhiainen, another friend and her child, a short clip shows the princess training for her future escape by scuba diving in her family pool.

The video was taken by Ms Jauhiainen on 12 February 2018 in the grounds of the princess’s mother’s grand home.

Ms Jauhiainen said she drove the scuba gear and underwater scooter to the building that housed the pool.

Sheikha Latifa's UAE ID has been published on, a site publicising her case.
Sheikha Latifa’s UAE ID has been published on, a site publicising her case.

“At this point the plan for Latifa’s escape was still for her to dive using a rebreather, diving gear, dive computer and an underwater scooter from UAE to Oman crossing the border…a distance of nearly 10 km underwater,” Ms Jauhiainen told Sky News.

“Training was a problem. One time we managed to go to her uncle’s beach house to practise but visibility was so bad that she couldn’t try out all the gear simultaneously.

“This time I was allowed to go inside her compound to ‘exercise’ but actually the plan was to test the gear.”

Latifa was 'determined to leave Dubai', her friend told Sky News
Latifa was ‘determined to leave Dubai’, her friend told Sky News, sharing this new image

Ms Jauhiainen said they decided to abandon this escape plan after encountering too many problems.

Emails seen by Sky News show Latifa, who said she tried to flee the UAE aged 16, approached Mr Jaubert about a second escape attempt back in May 2012.

“My ultimate goal is to never return to this country again,” she writes in coded emails to Mr Jaubert, in which explains she hopes to gain refugee status in the UK or other Western countries.

A glimpse of Latifa’s nature can be seen in this email correspondence, where among worries for her own safety and those helping her, she speaks of trying to make sure her pet monkey is safely re-homed ahead of her running away.

In her emails, Latifa explores ways to bring her sister, Shamsa, with them on their escape attempt.

One of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum's daughters has not been seen in public for nine months
One of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s daughters has not been seen in public for nine months

Cambridge police began an investigation into claims Shamsa was kidnapped off the streets of Cambridge in 2000.

More from United Arab Emirates

In the Dubai Ruler’s Court statement, they also said: “Sheikha Latifa and Sheikha Shamsa are adored and cherished by their family.

“Unfortunately, Sheikha Latifa was vulnerable to exploitation primarily by Mr Herve Jaubert, a man with a criminal record. He and his accomplices demanded payment of a ransom of USD $100 million, shortly after Her Highness disappeared from Dubai, for her return.”

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‘I don’t trust anyone’: The British women who married IS jihadis | World News



Reema Iqbal is talking to us from behind the plastic sheeting which marks the tented area which is now her home in Roj camp in northeast Syria.

She is not wearing the all-covering black Islamic dress and veil that most of the women walking around the camp are dressed in.

She’s instead in a T-shirt with shoulder-length hair which is wavy and flowing.

The first thing that strikes me is how healthy she appears. Her hair is shiny; her skin is glowing and flawless, and her teeth are white.

Alex Crawford spoke to the British women in their tents - they did not want to be shown
Alex Crawford spoke to the British women in their tents – they did not want to be shown

It stands out in this windswept, damp, miserable, shabby tented detention centre where she’s been with her two children for the past year.

Her appearance is out of kilter with her surroundings. She looks like she should be watching her sons in a park in east London – which was her home before she travelled to Syria to live in the Islamic State caliphate five years ago.

Instead she is now viewed as an IS family member and held under armed guard with her children, along with about a thousand other mainly women and children.

They are all relatives – wives and children – of men suspected of being IS fighters and now in prisons guarded by soldiers from the US-led coalition which has been fighting the extremists.

Their lives are pretty miserable. There is no running water. They’re living on top of each other in small tents which look grubby.

Some of them have been given small heaters to take the chill away. Their small bits of washing are hung on bits of string.

Video shows militants firing missiles and guns at people Kurdish fighters in Islamic State's  last territorial enclave in Syria.

IS militants target Kurdish forces in Baghuz

They are utterly reliant on the guards from the Syrian Democratic Force (SDF) for pretty much everything. And they are under armed guard 24/7 with no-one allowed in without express permission and no-one allowed out.

Reema Iqbal, who is around 30 years old, and her two sisters, Zara, aged 28 and Samila, 32, upped and left their homes in London, where they had previously had university educations, and set off to live in the caliphate at the height of the extremists’ power and influence.

At that time, the extremists were taking over swathes of land in Iraq and Syria.

By 2014, they had control of more than 34,000 square miles, an area bigger than Ireland or Austria.

Many of those I’ve spoken to – men and women – seemed to have been lured to join the caliphate, believing it was their Islamic duty; hoping to lend support and help to persecuted civilians who were being bombed by Syrian President Bashar al Assad and being killed and injured daily.

But the extremists went on to kill Yazidi men and enslave thousands of Yazidi women, buying and selling them at markets.

They instilled an extreme form of Islam over their controlling population, and executions and amputations were commonplace.

Women and children have been fleeing IS territory in Baghuz and heading to refugee camps
Women and children have been fleeing IS territory in Baghuz and heading to refugee camps

But Reema Iqbal does not want to talk about this. She is polite, friendly and smiles frequently, but she is adamant she is not going to talk to anyone right now.

“I don’t trust anyone. I’m sorry. I’ve been burned before,” she said.

She admits life is hard for her in the camp.

Despite her smiles, she’s obviously desperate to leave and there’s a flash of anger and bitterness when I suggest maybe she has been forgotten by the outside world.

“I have NOT been forgotten”, she insists.

“I am not forgotten.”

A woman at the al-Hawl refugee camp in northern Syria. File pic
A woman at the al Hawl refugee camp in northern Syria. File pic

The camp organisers tell me she has changed her name to Saqina, although no explanation is provided and she certainly is not saying.

Previous reports suggest she was once married to an IS fighter called Celso Da Costa, who died fighting with IS.

Every reference to the women and girls who went to Syria is accompanied by the description “jihadi bride” which I suspect may be one reason she’s not inclined to talk to a journalist right now.

She knows the SDF is attempting to exert pressure on governments to repatriate their nationals. The French authorities have yielded.

Every man or woman captured by the coalition is viewed as potentially dangerous.

Kadiza Sultana (L), Shamima Begum (C) and Amira Abase going through Gatwick security before catching a flight to Turkey
London schoolgirls Kadiza Sultana (l), Shamima Begum (c) and Amira Abase fled to Syria in 2015

The men are separated and kept in prisons. The women and children are spread around a handful of detention centres and placed in tents which are surrounded by fencing and guards with weapons.

In this camp alone there are about five British women and their children.

Reema Iqbal’s sister Zara, whose husband was also killed in the battles, has been separated from her and is in another camp, we are told.

The third sister, Samila, is thought to have been married to a doctor called Shajul Islam, who was accused of being involved in the kidnapping of the British journalist John Cantlie in 2012.

Nothing is known about either Samila, her husband or Mr Cantlie’s whereabouts, although there are persistent but unconfirmed indications that they are all still alive.

A member of Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) walks near a military vehicle near Baghouz
Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) near Baghuz, Islamic State’s last enclave

According to the camp guards, there are about a thousand people here – roughly about 400 families and among them there are French, German, Swedish, Belgium, Russian, Turkish, Tunisian, Algerian and American women as well as the British.

A few tents away from Reema Iqbal is Naseema Begum, who has four children she is looking after alone in the tent.

She too is from London and complains about being coerced into interviews organised by her SDF captors for Kurdish television.

She also appears nervous about being interviewed for fear it might make their position even worse.

Both women appear resigned to the fact it’s going to take some time to get out of this camp. They’ve been here a year already and there’s no sign anyone is rushing to help them or bring them back home.

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Charles and Camilla to make history with royal trip to Cuba | World News



The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall will make a historic visit to Cuba next month as the UK government continues “frank and open” discussions about the country’s human rights record.

Clarence House confirmed they will be the first members of the Royal Family to carry out an official trip to the country as they revealed details of the couple’s spring tour to the Caribbean from 17 to 29 March.

A palace spokesperson said: “Their royal highnesses’ visit to St Lucia, Barbados, St Vincent and The Grenadines, St Kitts and Nevis and Grenada will celebrate the monarchy’s relationship with these Commonwealth realms.

A fruit and vegetables vendor walks along a street of Havana
The full itinerary for their visit to Cuba has not yet been announced
Talía Sintado rolls cigars at the Cuba Tobacco Co. on Calle Ocho in Miami's Little Havana
But engagements are set to include learning about Cuba’s rich heritage

“Furthermore, at the request of the British government, their royal highnesses will also visit Cuba to highlight the growing bilateral relationship with the UK and showcase some of the cultural links between the two countries.

“Their royal highnesses will also visit the British overseas territory of the Cayman Islands to celebrate its place within the British family.”

Cityscape with american green Chevrolet classic car on the main street in Havana City Cuba
Camilla is understood to be interested in the architecture of the country
Cuban musician with trumpet, Havana, Cuba
And said to love the music of Cuba

Cuba has been criticised by organisations such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International for its poor human rights record, lack of free speech and detaining activists.

Explaining why they had agreed to the royal visit, a spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: “There was an invitation to the Prince of Wales when the (Cuban) president visited the UK back in November, and the British government requested that their royal highnesses accept the invitation.

“This is part of our longstanding approach towards Cuba of engagement and open and frank dialogue over the issues that divide us like human rights, but also the engagement towards progress on the matters that bridge us together.”

Asked if it was anticipated that human rights would be something the Prince of Wales would raise specifically, the spokesman added: “Human rights is a subject that we discuss government to government with the Cubans. We’ve done so regularly over the years and we continue to do so, there is also an EU dialogue with the Cubans which we support.”

Prime Minister Theresa May has not visited Cuba.

Philip Hammond visited in 2016 when he was foreign secretary, and the Foreign Office says there have been regular ministerial visits since.

The full itinerary for their visit to Cuba has not been announced, but will primarily be based in Havana and involve meeting the President Miguel Diaz-Canel and focus on engagements looking at environmental issues and Cuba’s vibrant culture.

It’s understood there are currently no plans to meet Raul Castro, the first secretary of the communist party of Cuba and brother of Fidel Castro.

All royal visits are made at the request of the government and the Foreign Office.

The destinations chosen for royal tours are an indicator of which countries the UK government want to keep on side and promote closer ties with.

The “soft power” of the Royal Family is seen as an important diplomatic tool that can open doors that politicians cannot.

Now that the Queen no longer carries out overseas tours, any visits carried out by her heir, the Prince of Wales, are now seen to have an increased significance.

On a recent visit to the Supreme Court in London, the prince and duchess let slip that they were looking forward to their trip to Cuba.

Speaking after the visit, Baroness Hale, the president of the Supreme Court, said: “It will be quite an event for members of the Royal Family to visit Cuba.

“She said she loved the music and was interested in the architecture. And she did make a remark about she wasn’t so sure about the food.”

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<a href=''>Elon Musk's 'malicious' AI too dangerous to release</a>



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