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Wednesday 16 January 2019

'She's a true friend' - Dubai royal defends visit from Mary Robinson over 'missing princess' Sheikha Latifa

Foiled: Princess Latifa's father and stepmother, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and Princess Haya (centre) at Ascot racecourse in England
Foiled: Princess Latifa's father and stepmother, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and Princess Haya (centre) at Ascot racecourse in England
Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed Al Maktoum, a daughter of Dubai's ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, left, meets Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland. Photo: United Arab Emirates Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation via AP
Concern: Princess Latifa looks on during her recent lunch with Mary Robinson
Tiina Jauhiainen, who helped in Latifa's escape

Gabija Gataveckaite

Princess Haya bint Hussein, the wife of the ruler of Dubai, has revealed she invited Mary Robinson to visit her and Princess Sheikha Latifa to "seek counsel as a family friend".

Princess Latifa, daughter of Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of the Emirate of Dubai, Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, sparked concern last year after she reportedly tried to flee the United Arab Emirates.

Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed Al Maktoum, a daughter of Dubai's ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, left, meets Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland. Photo: United Arab Emirates Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation via AP
Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed Al Maktoum, a daughter of Dubai's ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, left, meets Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland. Photo: United Arab Emirates Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation via AP

Her bid to get away was reportedly foiled close to the coast of India.

The former president of Ireland visited the family at the request of Princess Haya, and was later criticised by human rights groups for comments she made about the meeting, including a description that Latifa was "a troubled young woman".

Speaking on The Marian Finucane Show on RTÉ Radio One this morning, Princess Haya, Princess Latifa’s stepmother, insisted that she invited Mary Robinson herself as she was seeking "counsel" and that she is a "true friend".

“When you’re faced with a situation in life that is so profound and is deeply attached to your family, and situations that are complex and difficult, I’ve always learned in my life to ask for counsel, to look to those who are more wiser and more experienced, but above all those who tell you the truth, without mincing words without colouring them,” Princess Haya said.

Concern: Princess Latifa looks on during her recent lunch with Mary Robinson
Concern: Princess Latifa looks on during her recent lunch with Mary Robinson

“A person who is a true friend who will look at the situation and tell you the right thing, not what you want to hear."

Speaking for the first time publicly since the controversy, she explained that the last several months have been "terrible".

“What’s been a terrible last few months for myself, for my family, is a situation that is deeply private matter that we’ve been faced with.

“I have the most enormous gratitude for Mary on a personal level it meant the world to me and as I’ve said before, I feel so sorry that she is being criticised because of any actions of mine, I deeply respect and admire her,” she said.

In an interview with the BBC, Robinson said that Princess Latifa is a "troubled young woman" who is currently receiving psychiatric care.

When asked about Princess Latifa’s freedom and safety, Princess Haya insisted that she is currently in the loving care of her family and refused to elaborate any more on what she called a "deeply private personal matter".

She said that Mrs Robinson “made no judgment, I asked her here myself and details of that counsel are private. Contrary to what's being said, it's not anything other than a private family matter.”

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