Her friends say the last they saw of her was when commandos intercepted their sailboat in the Arabian Sea and dragged her away, kicking and screaming. A daughter of Dubai's ruler, she had been trying to escape her homeland, saying she was being abused. Since then, the whereabouts of Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed Al Maktoum are unknown, though she was likely brought back to the United Arab Emirates after the commando raid last month, said Herve Jaubert, a French ex-spy who tells the AP that he helped organize her escape attempt. "I know it sounds incredible," Jaubert tells the AP, but "it's just the facts." The allegations of a dramatic would-be sea escape intrude into the carefully controlled image maintained by the family of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who not only rules Dubai but is the Emirates' prime minister and vice president.
He is believed to have several dozen children from multiple wives, including multiple daughters named Latifa. In recent weeks, one of those Latifas has suddenly appeared frequently in media, which could be an attempt to muddy the picture as local media now make no mention of the Latifa who allegedly tried to leave. Matters have since grown only murkier. A London-based for-hire advocacy group long critical of the UAE, called Detained in Dubai, has been promoting the case and says it has been targeted by threats. And then there's Jaubert's own flair for the dramatic: He fled the UAE years earlier because of a financial dispute in a cloak-and-dagger escape that he said involved disguising himself as a woman and scuba diving to escape to international waters. The 2010 book he wrote, Escape from Dubai, prompted Sheikha Latifa to contact him, he said. The AP has much more on his alleged attempt to get her out of the country here.
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