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  • Writer's pictureDetained in Dubai


Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum

It is fair to say that the UAE never expected their abductions of Sheikha Latifa Al Maktoum, Herve Jaubert, Tiina Jauhiainen, and the crew of Nostromo to ever become a media issue. According to both Jauhiainen and Jaubert, up until the Daily Mail broke the story of their disappearance, UAE officials were planning to barbarically execute everyone they had captured. Indeed, had the Daily Mail delayed publishing the story by even one day, we do not know if any of them would have survived. Once the story was published, their Emirati captors radically changed their attitude, and eventually allowed their prisoners to go free; everyone, that is, except Latifa herself.

Within the UAE there is no coverage of the Sheikha Latifa case. As soon as her disappearance on March 4th broke publicly in the international press, the UAE immediately began publishing old news articles about a different daughter of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum named Latifa, apparently to confuse the public into thinking Latifa’s disappearance was “fake news”.

When Jaubert and Jauhiainen were released, they were both warned not to speak of what had occurred, and Tiina was even called after arriving home to Finland and was told to stay silent with the threat that “Sheikh Mohammed can get you anywhere in the world”. Nevertheless, both Tiina Jauhiainen and Herve Jaubert have defied such intimidation and given their accounts of what happened to the global media.

It is obviously worth considering why the UAE would insist on their silence; indeed, insist by means of overtly illegal threats and intimidation, if they genuinely believed their actions were justified and in compliance with the law. Once the full story of the UAE’s actions became public, they knew they had no way to respond or explain their wrongdoing.

When their threats did not prevent Tiina and Herve from speaking out, and as they watch the Latifa story spread to media platforms around the world, exposing to the entire international community the lawlessness of the UAE’s actions, the political unreliability of the UAE government, and the bizarre rationales they offered both Jaubert and Jauhiainen for what they did; which range from Sheikh Mohammed being personally offended to their desire to enforce their version of Islamic law beyond their jurisdiction; the UAE has been in reactive damage control mode.

Attempts have been made to discredit those campaigning on Latifa’s behalf, since of course they cannot deny the reality of the story itself. Even though this effort to divert attention has been only sporadically and amateurishly undertaken, even this has backfired, as it has been viewed by both the mainstream and social media as a transparent finger-pointing reflex of a guilty party.

Their latest seemingly ad hoc strategy is to float reports by “anonymous sources close to the government” claiming that Sheikha Latifa is ‘excellent and at home with her family’. While these reports have been carried by some international media outlets, it is only due to the fact that the UAE has yet to offer any official response. Without an official statement by the government (which countless reporters and human rights groups have requested), journalists have no choice but to accept unverifiable claims that purport to represent the UAE’s stance, if they want to report the story in a balanced way.

If anyone in the UAE imagined that a statement by an anonymous third party assuring the world that Latifa is safe would ease anyone’s mind or solve the multitude of legal problems the UAE is facing; it is utterly delusional.

From the beginning of this saga, the UAE has been trying to shut the story down. But Sheikh Mohammed is not the prime minister of the planet Earth; the Dubai Media Office is not the Global Ministry of Information; the world is not Dubai; and we do not just take your word for it.

No one will believe that Latifa is safe until she is in a safe jurisdiction and can speak freely.

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