From top: Princess Haya; Mary Robinson with Princess Latifa; Mrs Robinson at the launch of the Green Finance Summit in Guildhall, London yesterday
At the weekend, it emerged that the UAE’s Princess Haya bint al-Hussein had left her husband and prime minister of the UAE Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum.
Princess Haya’s move follows the family of Princess Haya’s stepdaughter Sheikha Latifa releasing pictures on Christmas Eve of Sheikha Latifa with Ireland’s former president Mary Robinson – claiming the photographs were evidence that Sheikha Latifa was not being held against her will.
Up until that point, it was known that Sheikha Latifa was seized from a yacht off the coast of India the previous March and had not been seen from since.
In a video made before she attempted to flee the UAE, Sheikha Latifa said she spent seven years trying to flee a gilded prison and feared torture if captured.
Princess Haya gave an interview to Marian Finucane on RTÉ Radio One in January – and she outlined that she invited Ms Robinson to the UAE to help in a “private family matter”.
It’s not yet known if Princess Haya will now speak out about the living conditions she, and Sheikha Latifa, faced in the UAE.
During her interview with Ms Finucane, Princess Haya was asked why she invited Ms Robinson to Dubai.
Princess Haya said:
“As you know, when you’re faced with a situation in life, that’s so profound and it’s deeply attached to your values, your family and situations that are complex and difficult – I’ve always learned in life to ask for counsel, to look to those who, you know, are wiser, and more experienced.
“But, above all, those who tell you the truth, without mincing words, without colouring them. And a person who’s a true friend who will look at a situation and tell you the right thing, not what you want to hear.
“My father always said that Mary was a person who really held precious what he believed and what he taught me to live by which is that, you know, the real victories in life are those that protect you in life….”
Princess Haya told Ms Finucane numerous times that it was a “deeply private family matter” and she didn’t wish to go into details of it “for the protection of Latifa herself and to ensure that she’s not used by anyone else”.
“She’s [Latifa] a vulnerable young woman and that’s that’s important to me and what’s important to us, as a family, is to ensure that she’s all right and that’s she’s receiving the love and protection of all of us.”
“Being asked for proof of life and being asked to prove that someone that we love, that I love, is simply…it’s absurd. We’ve done our utmost to help and protect and support her through this period and we continue to do so.
“It’s unimaginable that this thing has gone so far from the truth.
“It’s been unbelievable, devastating and I really wanted to get the right advice from Mary on how to move forward and I wanted her to give me that counsel.
“I did it as myself, there was no official party, there was no commission, there was no terms of reference.
“I made the call on a Tuesday and explained to her the difficulties that I saw and the heartbreak that I see around me and asked her to come and to give me advice because that’s the thing that I really value from a person with her integrity, with her track record that is unblemished, and to know that I’d get, absolutely, the truth there.
“She’s not a person, you know, who’s going go mince words, she’s her own woman, she always has been and that’s what mattered and that’s what mattered to me and it matters now.”
Yesterday, Trinity College Dublin announced that it will be opening a new Centre for Middle Eastern Studies funded by the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation, an educational charity established by the UAE Crown Prince.
The University Times previously reported that the centre would be funded by a €5.5 million donation from the charity.
In a press statement yesterday, Provost Patrick Prendergast referred to the centre as a “generous gift from the Al Maktoum Foundation”.
Previously: Oh Mary