UAE says Dubai princess being cared for at home as U.N. expresses concern

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ZURICH/DUBAI (Reuters) - The United Arab Emirates said on Friday that Sheikha Latifa, one of the ruler of Dubai's daughters, was being cared for at home as the U.N. human rights watchdog asked the UAE for proof that she is alive amid growing international concern about her fate.

The BBC's investigative news programme Panorama on Tuesday published a video it said was of Latifa, in which she says that she is being held against her will in a barricaded villa.

"Her family has confirmed that Her Highness is being cared for at home, supported by her family and medical professionals," the embassy of the UAE in London said in a statement.

"She continues to improve and we are hopeful she will return to public life at the appropriate time," said the statement, which was passed to Reuters by the UAE foreign ministry.

It also said that the media coverage was "not reflective of the actual position" of Latifa.

The fate of Latifa, 35, and her tempestuous relationship with her father, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, has cast a new spotlight on his family affairs and on an international campaign to free his daughter.

UN RAISES CONCERNS

Earlier on Friday in Geneva, Liz Throssell, spokeswoman for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, said the U.N. agency had raised its concerns "about the situation in light of the disturbing video evidence that emerged this week".

"We requested more information and clarification about Sheikha Latifa's current situation," she told an online briefing.

"Given the serious concerns about Sheikha Latifa, we have requested that the government's response comes as a matter of priority.... We did ask for proof of life," she said, adding the agency would continue to monitor the situation closely.

Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed al-Maktoum drew international attention in 2018 when a human rights group released a video made by her in which she described an attempt to escape Dubai.

Last March, a London High Court judge said he accepted as proved a series of allegations made by the Dubai ruler's former wife, Princess Haya, in a legal battle, including that the sheikh had ordered the abduction of his daughter Latifa.

The sheikh's lawyers rejected the allegations.

"I am a hostage and this villa has been converted into a jail," Latifa, 35, said in the video published by the BBC on Tuesday.

"All the windows are barred shut, I can't open any window." She said she was making the video in the bathroom of the villa, the only room she could lock herself into.

Reuters could not independently verify when or where the video was recorded.

(Reporting by Michael Shields; Additional reporting by Lisa Barrington and Ghaida Ghantous in Dubai; Editing by Frances Kerry and Gareth Jones)