The daughter of UAE ruler Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum has attempted suicide three times as a result of her forced imprisonment in one of her father's palaces, a women who worked for the ruling family has revealed.
Speaking to Australian website News.com.au, Tiina Jauhiainen revealed worrying details about the life of Shamsa, who she met while working in Dubai.
Jauhiainen was working as a sports trainer hired to give fitness classes to Shamsa's sister, Sheikha Latifa in 2001, who herself later tried to escape.
In 2000, Sheikha Shamsa Al-Maktoum tried to escape from her father's $130 million estate in Surrey, UK, when she was 18-years-old. Shamsa was found in nearby Cambridge and forcibly returned to Dubai where no news has since been heard about her and where she is said to have been imprisoned and beaten.
Shamsa apparently tried to commit suicide three times after she was isolated from the world, Jauhiainen said. Shamsa has not appeared at public events since her abduction in 2000.
Shamsa, now 37, had driven a Black Range Rover to the edge of the family estate and left it in the street. She was said to be bored with the restrictions imposed on her and unhappy with her life, after her father informed her that she was not allowed to go to university. She was then found two months later and taken to Dubai.
A year after she tried to run away, a woman who claimed to be Shamsa called Cambridgeshire police and said she had been kidnapped, but the investigation was stopped.
Jauhiainen said Shamsa's sister, Latifa, had told her details of the ill-treatment she had also been subjected to by her family, and that she spent three years in prison and was tortured when she tried to escape from Dubai in 2002 at the age of 16.
In March 2018, Jauhiainen tried to help Latifa escape once again, crossing the border into Oman and then travelling 40 kilometres on a rubber boat, before meeting a former French Navy officer named Jean-Pierre Herve Jaubert who was waiting for them on his yacht. The three decided to sail to Goa in India, and from there Latifa was supposed to find her way to the United States.
Instead, an Indian-UAE commando unit intercepted the yacht, abducted Latifa and imprisoned the crew. Jauhiainen and the rest of the crew were released after spending two weeks in a prison in Dubai. Jauhiainen has since been working to draw the world's attention to the case of Latifa, and announced the formation of a group named "Free Latifa".
In December 2018, the ruling family published photos of Latifa with former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and former Irish President, Mary Robinson, to confirm that Latifa is in good health and is being taken care of by her family.
Instead, the photo – in which she looked absent-minded – raised concerns about her life. However, the fate of her sister Shamsa remains unknown.
"She was kidnapped in Britain in 2000, forcibly taken to Dubai and kept in prison for eight years," said Jauhiainen, describing her concerning situation. Latifa told Jauhiainen that, while in prison Shamsa was beaten on her feet with sticks.
Shamsa was released in 2008 and then arrested two years later when she tried to contact British media outlets and the Cambridge police, which investigated her disappearance. This time she was kept in a bedroom in her mother's house where she was "drugged up", Jauhiainen said.
Jauhiainen recalled seeing Shamsa twice while working in Dubai. "[The] first time I met Shamsa was at the [royal family's] private sporting complex [in 2011]. She seemed dazed and very unhappy. She looked uncomfortable and sad and she was waiting for her PT to arrive," Jauhiainen told the Australian news site. "She looked very, very unwell."
"The second time I saw her was at [another] sister's wedding in 2016. Shamsa had lost so much weight that she was unrecognisable, she looked like an anorexic, extremely skinny and Latifah told me that she had actually stopped eating. She is like a zombie."
According to Jauhiainen, she learned from Latifa that her sister tried to commit suicide because "she couldn't take it anymore ".
Before fleeing Dubai herself, Latifa describing the terrible life of her sister Shamsa and the rest of the family. She spoke of the torture she was subjected to, saying: "Basically one guy was holding me while the other guy was beating me and they did that repeatedly" and "the next time I was tortured it was for five hours and I was pulled from the bed, driven to another location in the palace and they tortured me."
The two sisters are still being held against their will.
More recently a court in the UK capital London witnessed the first session of a battle between Princess Haya Al-Hussein, the sixth wife of Mohammed Al-Maktoum, over the children's custody and protection against forced marriage.
It was reported that Princess Haya fled after learning about Sheikh Mohammed Rashid Al-Maktoum's authoritarian treatment of both Shamsa and Latifa. It is likely that their fate will be revealed during the battle over custody of the children between the ruler of Dubai and the Jordanian princess. "I think that having been married to Sheikh Mohammed for over 15 years [Princess Haya] must have finally opened her eyes and realised what kind of person he is. She must have wanted to ensure safety for herself and her children," Jauhiainen said.
"I wouldn't have dedicated the past 16 months for campaigning for Latifa's freedom if I didn't believe it would one day become reality."
"I wish the same for Shamsa too and in light of the upcoming hearing of Princess Haya, the chances of Latifa and Shamsa have been drastically improved too."
Note: Errors in the piece have been corrected including names of the princesses involved and that of Jean-Pierre Herve Jaubert on 05 August 2019 11.23am