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Princess who flew Mary Robinson to Dubai says the Latifa saga is 'a private family matter'

Princess Haya says she wanted counself from the former Irish president.

An image of Princess Latifa and Mary Robinson released by the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
An image of Princess Latifa and Mary Robinson released by the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Image: PA Images

A WIFE OF the ruler of Dubai says she alone invited Mary Robinson to Dubai to offer advice on the ongoing saga of Princess Latifa Al Maktoum.

Princess Haya bint Hussein is one of six wives of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who is Latifa’s father, but is not a blood-relation of Latifa.

Speaking on The Marian Finucane Show on RTÉ Radio, Haya said that the former Irish president’s involvement in the case came at her request.

“My father always said that Mary was a person who really held precious what he believed and what he taught me to to live by,” Haya said, adding that Robinson had “a lovely family lunch” with Latifa. 

Latifa has not been seen in public since March when she was allegedly captured in a yacht off the coast of India as she tried to leave the UAE.

After this capture, a video the 32-year-old had made previously was released by her friends. In the video, Latifa criticised her father and the restrictions she lived under.

She also said that if the video was released it would either mean she is dead “or in a very, very, very bad situation”.

Robinson became embroiled in the saga when she visited Latifa last month and was pictured with her. Robinson also said that Latifa was “troubled” and “vulnerable” and added that she was “in the loving care of her family”.

Source: BBC News/YouTube

Robinson was criticised by some human rights campaigners for her comments and The Sunday Times subsequently reported that her flight to Dubai was paid for by Haya.

Speaking this morning, Haya described the situation as “deeply private” and said she merely wanted Robinson’s counsel on the situation.

“It’s a situation that’s deeply private that we’ve been faced with. And we’ve been through this terrible time I’ve always thought about what’s the right thing to do.

“Above all for me it was important to know that I had outside counsel and that I had somebody who gave me some wise words and watched what I was doing, and this is why I called Mary.”

Asked about the video of Latifa that was released and whether this made it a public matter, Haya refused to answer directly.

Yes I understand that, and I hear what you’re saying. It is a private family matter and I don’t want to go any more deeply into it because for the protection of Latifa herself and to ensure that she’s not used by anyone else. She’s a vulnerable young woman and that’s what’s important to me and what’s important to us as a family is to ensure that she’s alright and receiving the love and protection of all of us.

Haya went on to say that she sought outside involvement because the UN was seeking “proof of life” in relation to Latifa, a request Haya described as “absurd”.

Royal Ascot 2016 - Day Two - Ascot Racecourse Princess Haya and Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. Source: David Davies/PA Images

“I’m not here to go into the details of what is a private family matter, and I’ve given you the reasons why that is so important for me to remain faithful to her above all people,” Haya said.

“I asked for Mary to come to Dubai, I asked for her to come to Dubai because it mattered deeply to me. I called her specifically with a question because I’d seen a correspondence from the special procedures branch of the UN High Commission for Human Rights.”

And the reason that this correspondence had such a shattering effect on me is simply the fact that we were being asked for proof of life. Being asked to prove that someone that we love, that I love, is simply alive is absurd.

“We’ve done our utmost to help and protect and support her through this period, and we’ll continue to do so. It’s unimaginable that this thing has gone so far from the truth. It’s been unbelievable and devastating and I really wanted to get the right advice from Mary about how best to move forward, and I wanted her to give me that counsel.”

Haya also said that the request for Robinson to travel to the UAE was made by her alone and there was “no official party” or “no terms of reference”.

Haya also accused others of exploiting the situation, but would not provide details of who she was talking about or in what way they were doing so.

“I am not going to allow a vulnerable woman to continue to be used and exploited by people for their own agendas,” she said.

Asked about the interactions between Latifa and Robinson, Haya refused to go into specifics but said it was very happy and memorable.

“We had a lovely family lunch. We had a very, very small group. We had a walk in the garden, we enjoyed several hours together. It was really one of the memories that I will treasure. It was a truly happy time, it was an open time and it was a time to talk.”

About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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