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The terrifying story of the Dubai princess who fled her billionaire father

Two years ago, the daughter of one of the world's richest men staged a daring escape from her repressed life. It failed and she has not been seen in public since. Radhika Sanghani talks to her friend who went on the run with her and who is highlighting the plight of women in the Middle East

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Sheikha Latifa Bin Mohammed Al Maktoum pictured with her father

Sheikha Latifa Bin Mohammed Al Maktoum pictured with her father

Sheikha Latifa Bin Mohammed Al Maktoum escaping with her friend  Tiina

Sheikha Latifa Bin Mohammed Al Maktoum escaping with her friend Tiina

Princess Haya, the sixth wife of Sheikh Mohammed

Princess Haya, the sixth wife of Sheikh Mohammed

UK Press via Getty Images

Princess Sheikha Latifa covertly filmed during a meeting with Mary Robinson after she was returned

Princess Sheikha Latifa covertly filmed during a meeting with Mary Robinson after she was returned

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Sheikha Latifa Bin Mohammed Al Maktoum pictured with her father

'When we got in the car on the day of our escape, I turned to Latifa and said, 'We're like Thelma and Louise'," says Tiina Jauhiainen, with a small smile at the bittersweet memory. "But then Latifa cried out, 'No, no, don't say that! Their story doesn't have a happy ending'."

That was two years ago, on February 24, 2018, the day that Princess Latifa bint Mohammed al-Maktoum, daughter of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, ruler of Dubai and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, tried to escape her life as a Dubai princess, with the help of her best friend Tiina. At 32, it was the first time Latifa had ever been in the front seat of a car, having always had a driver and travelled in the back.

The escape was the result of a seven-year plan that involved driving into Oman, taking a dinghy into international waters and boarding a yacht to Sri Lanka, from where Latifa hoped to fly to the United States and claim political asylum.