- Film And TV
- 28 Nov 23
A new Finnish-Irish production on the story of the escape and abduction of UAE princess Latifa will feature how former Irish President Mary Robinson was misled into thinking the princess was mentally ill.
A new TV show on Dubai's Princess Latifa's escape, recapture, imprisonment and release will be a four part series titled The Escape, and will feature the controversy involving former President of Ireland Mary Robinson.
Latifa is the daughter of the Prime Minister of the UAE, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum. In 2018, she used a rigid inflatable boat to reach a yacht anchored in international waters rented by a French accomplice. But while off the coast of India, the vessel was reportedly boarded by Indian commandos and she was returned to her father.
On Christmas eve of 2018, three low-resolution photographs taken about a week prior showing Sheikha Latifa alongside former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, were released by UAE authorities.
According to Mary Robinson, the meeting was arranged by one of the wives of Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Princess Haya. Robinson then described Latifa in a BBC Radio 4 interview as a "troubled young woman" who regretted making the earlier video in which she alleged abuse, and was receiving psychiatric care.
The drama series is being developed by Yellow Film & TV, led by Irish and Finnish producers Jackie Larkin and Olli Haikka. It will tell the story of Latifa’s “death-defying escape attempt”.
The new four part drama will show the point in the story where the former UN high commissioner for human rights travelled to Dubai to see whether Latifa was still alive.
The film-makers said: “Robinson was misled into thinking that the princess was not a captive but was instead mentally ill. The truth of Princess Latifa’s captivity was eventually revealed when Tiina released secret video messages.”
Radha Stirling, head of the rights group Detained in Dubai, at the time of Robinson's statements expressed shock, saying "Anyone familiar with Princess Latifa's story who listened to the BBC Radio interview today with Mary Robinson will be astonished at the extent to which Mrs Robinson appeared to be reciting almost verbatim from Dubai's script," she said.
Ms Robinson has since retracted these statements and described her comments as her biggest mistake.
Speaking on RTÉ's Late Late Show in 2021, the former president said that "it's hurtful to me when I realise that I made a big mistake".
Ms Robinson continued on the subject saying: "I've made mistakes before and that's the biggest one. I hope I'll never be in that situation again." She added: "I let my heart lead my head. I went to help a friend, I was naive."
Ms Robinson told BBC Panorama that she "had been horribly tricked" into thinking that Latifa was not being held agaisnt her own will but was instead a "troubled young woman".
The Escape will go into production next year. Its award-winning writer, Lindsay Shapero, has been working closely with Tiina Jauhiainen, Latifa’s close Finish friend who helped her flee Dubai in 2018, only for both women to be forcibly returned and interrogated.
Since June 2021 Princess Latifa is believed to be free, after a brief statement issued on her behalf by law firm Taylor Wessing stated that she was free to travel and wants privacy. In 2021, the #FreeLatifa campaign concluded upon the release of this statement.
In February 2022, the then UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, stated that she met Latifa in Paris and that Latifa was well and wished for respect for her privacy.
Finish producer Olli Haikka said that for legal reasons and in the pursuit of accuracy, they had been working closely with independent investigators.
Irish Jackie Larkin, and CEO of Newgrange Pictures said of the new project “It’s very complex legally, but also, naturally, we would, as professionals, do the in-depth level of research ourselves".
The four part series The Escape will go into production next year.
- Film And TV
- 29 Feb 24