Princess Latifa says she “lives as she pleases”, as pictured with the UN commissioner

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Princess Latifa says she is “living the way she wants to” as a photo of her meeting with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has been published.

The picture and statement come almost exactly one year after the release of videos in which she claimed her family was holding her hostage in Dubai.

This is the first photo showing Princess Latifa, the daughter of a billionaire, the ruler of Dubai, with an official and not with friends or family since the publication of her video testimony.

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What happened to Princess Latifa?

It features an elegantly dressed Latifa in Paris, smiling alongside Michelle Bachelet, the UN leader for human rights.

A statement on behalf of Princess Latifa was provided to Sky News.

The statement said: “Sheikha Latifa would like to state that she had a long, positive and private meeting in Paris with the High Commissioner to exercise her right to privacy, following persistent media speculation about her.

“Latifa wants to make it clear that she lives the way she wants to travel, the way she wants to be perfectly well and that she wants the media to allow her to live in peace.”

From the Twitter account of the UN human rights account that posted the picture, there was a tweet saying that Ms. Bachelet “met with Dubai Sheikha Latifa in [the] at the request of the latter in Paris “.

The picture appears to have been taken at the Mall of the Emirates in Dubai.  Image: Instagram / lyndabouchikhi
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Latifa was first filmed after the release of her videos in this picture, shot in Dubai last May. Image: Instagram / lyndabouchikhi

“After the presentation with Latifa’s legal adviser, the High Commissioner and Latifa met face to face. Latifa told the High Commissioner that she was fine and expressed her desire to respect her privacy.”

February 17 last year, secret video messages sent to Sky News have been published. In them, princess claimed her father was holding her hostage.

After the footage, the UN and world leaders expressed concern for the princess.

In May 2021, a photo was posted on social media Princess Latifa in public for the first time since her videos came out. In the following months, several photos were posted on social media.

This included a photo of August 2021 showing her in Iceland with a woman and her cousin Marcus Essabri.

The latest image shows Princess Latifa standing with her longtime friend Sioned Taylor and cousin Marcus Essabri in Iceland
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The picture shows Latifa (left) with her cousin Marcus Essabri and longtime friend Sioned Taylor. Image: Instagram / @ shinnybryn

Supporters of the 36-year-old royal family have expressed concern about the nature of the paintings and whether it is truly free.

In the photos, Princess Latifa was dressed in casual clothes, with little or no makeup, with tight hair and a neutral facial expression.

The third image, which appears to depict Princess Latifo, was posted on Instagram
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Photos of Princess Latifa were posted on social media after the release of her videos

In contrast, a picture released on Friday shows the princess’s hair styled and made up.

She is dressed in a blazer, shiny boots and simple jewelry as she poses on a Parisian street and looks directly at the camera.

Despite these differences, some are still cautious.

Ken Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, told Sky News that “there is no idea how free Latifa would feel if she spoke” to the UN chief, and guessed if she might have been pressured to cooperate.

He said: “This is clearly not in line with the lively woman shown in the videos. The question is why she seemed to have changed so dramatically.”

David Haigh co-founded the Free Latifa group, an organization that championed the freedom of Dubai’s royal world until the group disbanded after Latifa was pictured next to her cousin.

Haigh told Sky News: “I am pleased with the news from the United Nations that High Commissioner for Human Rights Michele Bachelet recently met with Princess Latifa in Paris.”

He added: “It was [in] April 2021 that the United Nations demanded commitments from Dubai on the safety and well-being of Latifa after Sky News published news of the shocking footage of Latifa … Now I hope that Dubai and the wider UAE will begin to respect, promote and protect human rights all its citizens and expatriates. “

The photo, taken with the UN human rights chief, appears to have been taken on Haussmann Boulevard.  Image: Google Maps
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The photo, taken with the UN human rights chief, appears to have been taken on Haussmann Boulevard. Image: Google Maps

Sky News geolocated the photo and confirmed it was taken on Boulevard Haussmann in central Paris.

In the image from Google Street View, both the characteristic green fences and the red awning behind them can be seen.

Latifa tried to escape from her family in March 2018 by attempting to sail across the Indian Ocean, but was returned to Dubai as part of a rescue mission, according to the royal family.

Princess Latifa in Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum
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Princess Latifa is the daughter of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum

In secret videos published by Sky News, Latifa said she was a “hostage” and was beaten, drugged and imprisoned and then locked up under armed guard at the royal villa.

Her family has always vehemently denied any violation.

Sheikh, who is also the UAE’s prime minister, says Latifo was tricked into escaping by criminals who wanted money, and that returning to Dubai was a rescue mission.

He said the princess is safe and healthy and they want to keep her privacy.

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