Princess Haya, one of the reported six wives of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai, has fled her native United Arab Emirates and is now hiding in a house in London, according to the Clarion Project and numerous media.
The princess reportedly is concerned for her safety and has taken her two children with her. Princess Haya also reportedly is seeking political asylum and a divorce, according to the New York Times.
One of the sheik’s daughters, Latifa bint Mohammed al-Maktoum, tried to escape from her father last year but was captured by Emerati forces. She then reportedly was held in Dubai against her will, reported The Times. A video of the princess speaking about her ordeal can be viewed here.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum attempted to counter news of his wife’s escape by alleging that Princess Haya was covering up an improper relationship with a bodyguard. He wrote on his Instagram account, as reported by The Sun newspaper, “You betrayer, you betrayed the most precious trust, and your game has been revealed.”
Activist Tiina Jauhiainen, an advocate for the release of Princess Latifa, praised Haya’s escape to London but demanded that she do more to help women in the U.A.E., “[Princess Haya] may be a princess, but this is about freedom and equality,” said Jauhiainen. “Equality, dignity and the right of self-determination for millions of women across the Middle East is at stake.”
The United Arab Emirates, although less extreme than other Middle Eastern nations, has been criticized for its human rights record, particularly in regard to women.
The UAE has also been criticized for allegedly abusing its migrant population in the workplace through unsafe working conditions, 12-hour work days, and the reported withholding of paychecks and worker’s passports.