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February 13, 2024 33 mins

In 2018, Sheika Latifa bint Mohammed Al Maktoum, the daughter of the ruler of Dubai, attempted a daring escape to international waters, away from what she characterized as a dangerous and oppresive life among her family. She was captured and brought back to the United Arab Emirates, and though there have been public statements saying she is safe and content, her wellbeing has become a matter of international concern. Dana is joined by New Yorker staff writer Heidi Blake.

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Episode Transcript

Available transcripts are automatically generated. Complete accuracy is not guaranteed.
Speaker 1 (00:00):
Welcome to Noble Blood, a production of iHeartRadio and Grimm
and Mild from aarin Manki listener Discretion advised. Curled inside
the empty spare tire compartment inside the trunk of an Audi,
beneath several blue bags of heavy Ikia furniture, a thirty

(00:22):
two year old woman named Litifa held her breath. She
was attempting to sneak across the border from the United
Arab Emirates to Oman, where hopefully she would make it
onto the boat that would bring her to international waters,
where she hoped she would be free. Litifah's full name

(00:45):
was Sheikha Latifah bint Muhammad bin Rashid al Muktum, and
she was the daughter of the ruling Emir of Dubai,
Sheikh Mohammed. For years, Latifah had been studying and cultivating
relatelationships with people who could help her escape her repressive home.

(01:05):
She even trained in extreme sports so that she would
be ready for whatever she needed to do. That was
how Latifah had met a woman named Tina Yahayanen, a
Finnish woman living in Dubai, who gave Latifah private capuera lessons.
Tina was the one driving the Audi across the border.

(01:27):
She would stay with Latifa every step on the journey
to freedom. Thankfully, a guard waved the car across the
border into Oman without looking in the spare tire compartment.
But the journey was far from over. Latifa had made
arrangements for a yacht that could bring them to India, where, hopefully,

(01:48):
with the help of a fake passport, she could fly
to the United States and claim asylum. But first she
needed to get sixteen miles off shore to meet the yacht.
There was another contact who gave Latifa and Tina a
ride in his dinghy, and though a storm pressed toward

(02:08):
them on the horizon and locals warned the man not
to go out in his small boat, Latifa had come
too far to turn back. Their tiny boat pressed forward
through violent waves, but still it couldn't make it all
the way to the yacht, and so Latifah's next contact,

(02:28):
a former French naval officer who had once escaped Dubai himself,
where he was charged with embezzlement, rowed from the yacht
with another crew member to the dinghy on jet skis.
Latifa and Tina both fell into the water several times,
but eventually they managed to make it onto the back

(02:49):
of the jet skis and then safely to the yacht.
The yacht was filthy and teeming with cockroaches, but they
were finally in international waters, and when Latifah slept on
the deck, she could see the stars. But freedom wouldn't
last long. They noticed a ship was trailing them when

(03:12):
they were about thirty miles off the coast of India.
The next night, Latifa heard gunshots and boots on the deck.
Commandos tied Latifa up and injected her with tranquilizers before
flying her back to the place She had already risked
everything to try to escape. But that wouldn't be the

(03:34):
end of Latifah's story. She had already risked everything to
try to get away, and now she wanted the world
to know what she was going through. Latifa's escape attempt
and its aftermath received international attention when it occurred in
twenty eighteen. I'm thrilled to be talking with New Yorker

(03:55):
staff writer Heidi Blake, who wrote about Latifah and an
incredible article in May of twenty twenty three, and who's
revisited the story and the story of other royal women
who have attempted to escape the restrictive lives they were
born into in the UAE. For The New Yorker's narrative
podcast series The Runaway Princesses. I'm Dana Schwartz and this

(04:21):
is Noble Blood.

Speaker 2 (04:24):
Heidi. Thank you so much for being here.

Speaker 3 (04:26):
Thank you so much for having me.

Speaker 2 (04:28):
I thought your piece last spring in The New Yorker
was just so extraordinary, and you've continued writing about Latifa
and the women like her. But before we get into
Latifah's twenty eighteen escape attempt, can we go back a
little bit and can you just tell me a bit
Latifa's father is Sheikh Mohammed? What sort of power does

(04:49):
he have? What sort of his political position in the
United Arab Emirates.

Speaker 3 (04:53):
See Shee Muhammad is the ruler of Dubai and he's
also the Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, which
is a a major strategic ally to Western governments. And
so Checke Muhammad is in this interesting position because he
wields absolute power at home and he also has a
huge amount of power and influence on the world stage.
And you know, he's a big ally of the US

(05:16):
and of the UK. He's actually in the In the UK,
he's Britain's biggest private landowner. He's the owner of the
world's biggest thoroughbred race horsing team, which in the UK
is a big deal because the late Queen of England
was a huge horse racing fan, and he had cultivated
this very valuable friendship with her through their shared love
of horse racing, and so those things really play out

(05:36):
in this story that he has this extraordinary degree of
power and influence around the world and particularly in the
UK as well as inside Dubai.

Speaker 2 (05:46):
It seems like in recent years the United Arab Emirates
has sort of been making a public push saying that
they're advocating for the right of women. Can you tell
us a little bit though, about what the conditions are
for women, some of the truth to that sort of
pr blit and then what the conditions were for royal women.

Speaker 3 (06:05):
Yeah, that's absolutely right, And it's one of the things
about the story that I sort of found most striking
really is that Chap Muhammad has been at pains to
position himself on the world stage as a champion of
women's rights within the Middle East. He's bowed to remove
all of the hurdles that women face in the UAE,
and he's passed a number of seemingly progressive laws guaranteeing women,

(06:27):
for example, equal pay for equal work. He's appointed nine
women to cabinet positions in the UAE's government, and many
of those initiatives are spearheaded by one of his daughters.
And so he has actually kind of wheeled out his
own female family members as sort of emblems of his
commitment to female advancement, and that has won him a
lot of claudits in the West. He's been sort of

(06:48):
praised for his for his progressive stance. But actually, what
I found when I began to report on this is
that women in Dubai's royal family occupy this sort of
possible dual role where they're on the one hand, held
up as sort of symbols of Shake Muhammad's, you know,
great beneficence towards women, but actually also are expected to

(07:11):
occupy very tightly defined roles and if they step outside
of that, they can be brutally punished. And the sort
of importance for Shake Muhammad in maintaining the sort of
illusion of absolute power is it's essential to him basically
to make sure that women in his family do not
step out of line, are not seen to be challenging

(07:32):
his authority, and it's sort of politically dangerous for him
if that is the case. And so when women have
challenged him, the consequences for them have been absolutely dire.

Speaker 2 (07:42):
One detail, just early on in your piece, almost as coloring,
but that I found so incredibly striking was that Latifa
was when she was an infant, was given to another
of Schik Muhammad's wives sort of as a gift, as
an offering, almost to raise.

Speaker 3 (07:57):
Yeah, it's extraordinary. I mean, Chickmuhammad has six wives and
around thirty children, and it's kind of fascinating the way
that these kids were almost sort of a commodity. And
so Latifa and her brother were both removed from their
natural mother as infants and given as a gift to
shake Muhammad's childless sister, who by Latifa's account, because you know,

(08:21):
I sort of pieced this together from Latifa's own writings
over the course of about a decade, where she really
documented what her early life had been like. By her description,
her aunt sort of almost collected stray children in her palace,
and so Latifa was raised among dozens of other kids
who her aunt seemed to sort of want to own,
but then who were kept confined to their bedrooms and

(08:44):
not able to go out and to play and lived
really very sort of miserable and straightened lives. And she
wrote really movingly about just spending days at the window
kind of watching the world go by outside. And one
image that just really stuck with me was she wrote
about how she would dream over and over again that
she was flying a kite so huge it would carry

(09:06):
her into the sky because she was just desperate to
get away, and that was a preoccupation which really defined
most of her childhood and then also her adult life.

Speaker 2 (09:18):
So let's fast forward to Latifah's twenty eighteen escape attempt.
What were those preparations like for her? Obviously, her father
has so much power, so it was an incredibly dangerous
prospect for her.

Speaker 3 (09:32):
Right exactly, And she knew what the stakes were because
she'd seen what happened to other women in the royal
family who tried to escape. So her own sister, Shanza,
twenty years earlier, had tried to run away on a
trip to the UK and had since been captured and
imprisoned and held at the Heavy Sedation in the palace.
Her aunt Bushra had been kidnapped from Britain after antagonizing

(09:54):
Dubai's ruler, and had been brought back to Dubai, where
she died suspiciously. And so Latifa Is sort of knew
what the risks were. She herself had previously tried to
escape to get help for her sister Shamza, and had
been captured and imprisoned for years and beaten so badly
that all the bones in her feet had been broken
during prolonged torture sessions. So she knew that the risks

(10:16):
were huge. But she wrote again and again to her
supporters that she was prepared to countenance death. She was
so determined to get away. She said, it's freedom or
death and nothing in between. So her determination is one
of the things that's so striking in the sort of
letters and messages and writings that I got hold of.
And she actually spent seven years planning her second escape attempt,

(10:39):
and she planned it in extraordinary details. She recruited a
team to help her, two martial arts instructors and a
former French naval officer who was to captain the yacht
that she escaped on, and they spent years deliberating over
how she would get out of Dubai and over the
border into Oman, which was where she was going to

(11:00):
escape onto this yacht. They spent years practicing her doing
an underwater swim using an underwater scooter and a scuba
rebreather to try and get over the border that way,
and ultimately decided that was too risky, and so eventually
they decided to smuggle her over the border into Oman
in the boot of a car before she used a
dinghy and then jet skis to get onto this yacht

(11:23):
that she used to make her getaway. So yeah, it
was an escape attempt of just extraordinary daring.

Speaker 2 (11:29):
Obviously, as your story tells, when she was about thirty
miles off the coast of India, commanders stormed the yacht
and Latifa was captured. What went wrong in this escape.

Speaker 3 (11:42):
Well, I guess there were sort of a variety of
things that led up to Latifa's capture, But ultimately, I
think you sort of realize when you look into this
that when you're up against Shake Muhammad, no one really
has a chance, and you know, his global power exten
and so widely that really I think sort of you know,

(12:03):
in retrospect, Latifa's hope that she was going to be
able to get away was pretty fanciful. So her father
had managed to intercept her communications from on board the
yacht and was able to pinpoint exactly where she was.
He'd issued red notices through Interpol, the international policing agency,
accusing the people who were helping her of having her kidnapped,

(12:26):
to enlist the support of you know, international police forces.
And he had then put in a call to his
friend and ally, the Prime Minister of India and the
Randa Mody, and persuaded Mody to send armed commandos to
storm the yacht off the coast of India and capture
Latifa in exchange for an arms dealer who was placed
in Dubai, who Naranda Mody wanted extra dising back to India.

(12:50):
And so this whole kind of deal was stitched up
between two world leaders and Latifa was captured and dragged
away back to Dubai just around a week after is
setting off.

Speaker 2 (13:02):
When she was tranquilized and brought back to Dubai, what
do we know about her treatment.

Speaker 3 (13:07):
Well, so she went dark for a long time after
the yacht that she was on was stormed and her
friends and supporters had no idea what had happened to her.
Her friend Tina just describes seeing Latifa being dragged off
the side of the boat shouting shoot me now, don't
take me back, and then they heard nothing from her
for about a year. Only after a year had gone

(13:28):
by did Latfa supporters get a message from a woman
who was attending to Latifa where she was being held,
and then they kind of began this extraordinary correspondence where
Latifa was being held in prison but had a secret
line of communication via this maid back to her friends
who were based in the UK and was able to

(13:48):
document exactly what had happened to her, and she described
being dragged off this boat, tranquilized, thrown into a desert
prison where she came under concerted pressure to recount a
testimony that she'd published online accusing her father of all
sorts of crimes during her escape, and to kind of

(14:09):
tell the world that she was fine and that she
was living freely in Dubai, and that she was not
you know that she no longer she no longer wished
to leave the country, and she resisted that for years
during this imprisonment, she absolutely refused to cooperate with that.
But you know, eventually, in these these letters and messages
videos that she was sharing with her supporters, you kind

(14:30):
of see her will power begin to ebb away. She
talks about, you know, how she's being guarded around the clock,
She's not being allowed to open the window. She feels
she's dying a very slow death by suffocation. Her father's
guards are increasingly appearing, accompanied by a psychiatrist who's putting
pressure on her, ramping up the psychological pressure on her
to crack. They're telling her she'll never see the sunlight again.

(14:54):
She lives constantly in fear of being killed by her
father's guards, and I think ultimately you begin to see
just the cumulative pressure become too much for her to bear.

Speaker 2 (15:05):
In recent years, there have been public appearances of Latifa
out in the world, and two UN Human Rights Watch
officials have met with her publicly. How much credence do
you give to those meetings of the UN?

Speaker 3 (15:21):
Well, yeah, it's I mean, it's interesting. The sort of
the way the story sort of resolved itself in the
end is that after decades of absolutely refusing to countenance
that she would ever accept a life in Dubay under
her father's control, and you know, saying again and again,
I will never accept that, and I will always be

(15:43):
imprisoned as long as I'm here, and I will never
be free until I'm outside Dubai. Latifa suddenly lost all
contact with her supporters and then soon after started appearing
in what appeared to be kind of carefully stage managed
social media photographs and then ultimately had this, you know,
these meetings with UN Human Rights officials, and they're sort

(16:06):
of complicated because it happened in two stages. So one
of those took place during her imprisonment. She was photographed
with Mary Robinson, who was the former UN Human Rights
Commissioner and who released a statement afterwards with photographs of
Latifa and said to the media that Latifa was mentally ill,
regretted her attempt to escape, and was now safe in
the loving care of her family. Mary Robinson subsequently retracted

(16:28):
that and said she'd been horribly tricked into saying those
things after videos of Latifa appeared in which she accused
her father of holding her hostage and said she was
a prisoner. But then after she a second time, lost
contact with her supporters, and then started to appear in
these social media posts. She met with Michelle Bachelet, who
is Mary Robinson's successor as U and Human Rights Commissioner,

(16:50):
who released a statement to say that Latifa had assured
her that she was well and living as she wishes
to and just wished, you know, wish to be left
alone to live her life in peace. I spoke to
Michelle Bachelet after that statement, and she acknowledged to me
that while she'd said that, actually she was far from
convinced that Latifa was actually safe and well. Certain couldn't

(17:15):
rule out that Latifa had come to this meeting with
her under durest and had been put under pressure to
say those things. It's certainly hard for me, having spent
many months kind of immersed in Latifa's writings and the
recordings that she left behind, and just those sort of
decades of determination on her part, never to give in,
never to surrender, never to accept a life under her

(17:37):
father's control. It's very hard to imagine that she has suddenly,
of her own free will, completely reversed course and all
of that and decided that she really does just want
to live in Dubai. You know, I think clearly the
stance that she has now taken is at least a
product of years of torture, imprisonment and abuse, an extreme duress.

(18:01):
And of course it's possible that she's being outright coerced
and you know, is being threatened into saying these things.
I think, given what we know about the way Shapemhammad
has treated his daughters and other women in the family,
nothing is off limits in terms of what he would
be willing to do to crush their rebellions, to bring
them to heal. And so I don't think anyone should

(18:25):
rest assured that Latifa is well and is living freely.

Speaker 2 (18:30):
One thing that is just very clear in your story
is that Latifa's family is just incredibly powerful and I
will say frightening. Were you nervous at all investigating and
publishing your story?

Speaker 3 (18:43):
I think I was certainly conscious that shap Muhammad's government
has no compunction about sort of digital surveillance on journalists
and things like that. You know, one of the things
that came out in the course of a court battle
between shape Mohammad and his his youngest wife, Princess High
who's another princess who ran away from him to the

(19:04):
UK seeking protection. Was that Shane Muhammad had used his
you know, his intelligence agencies had hacked Higher's phone and
the phones of her lawyers and various supporters with the
Pegasus Israeli spyware, and that subsequently some supporters of Latifa's
found that Pegasus was also on their phones. And so
I was conscious that that sort of thing was certainly

(19:27):
a possibility of not a likelihood, and was therefore sort
of careful about digital security to the extent that any
of us really can be these days. But you know,
it's yeah, I mean, I think beyond that, I just
feel incredibly lucky to live in a country where, for all,

(19:47):
for all Britain's many failians, I think, you know, it's
a pretty safe place to go about your work as
a journalist. I think it would have been quite a
different thing traveling to de Buy and doing reporting there,
because I think there are a real risks to journalists
in that region, and you know, but I'm lucky to
operate in a pretty safe country for this kind of work.

(20:08):
And so I wasn't I wasn't too nervous for my
sort of physical safety, but certainly, yeah, conscious of the
kind of digital security side of things you alluded to.

Speaker 2 (20:16):
Princess Hio, as you said, was Shiekmhammad's youngest wife, was
involved in a court bettal and ultimately was able to
win a settlement and win custody of their children to
live in England. Can you speak a little bit about
her experience.

Speaker 3 (20:31):
Yeah, Princess Hia's case is a really interesting one because
she's kind of the one who got away, I mean
literally the one who got away. I think that that
is really due entirely to her independent status as the
daughter of the former king of Jordan, a member of
the Jordanian royal family, and a woman who, unlike other

(20:52):
women in Shamhamon's family, actually had a considerable amount of
power and status in her own right. And you know,
while U is an important ally to Western governments, so
is Jordan. That comes with a certain inviolability. I think
that wasn't there for Shakemhammad's own children. So when Princess
hire ran away to the UK in twenty nineteen with

(21:13):
her two young children, she was actually afforded the diplomatic
position at the Jordan embassy, which gave her immunity and protection.
She was then able sort of under that cover to
apply to the courts for court protection. Her children were
made wards of the Court in the UK, which meant
they couldn't be removed from the country without court permission.
She was then able to bring a claim against Shapemuhammad

(21:37):
in the British courts, which actually provided a forum for
a lot of the evidence of his abuse of his
daughters to come out, because she cited his abuse of
both Latifa and her sister Shamza as evidence of the
threat that Shae Muhammad posed to her and to her
own children. And so those masters were adjudicated in a
British court. The judge held a kind of fact finding
process and ultimately ruled that indeed Chich Muhammad had kidnapped

(21:59):
and in prison Shamza and Latifa. And so that was
kind of an extraordinary development in this story, this moment
where one of these women was actually able to get
out and get the truth out there. And it was
kind of interesting because Hire had played a pretty ambiguous
role in all of this up until that point, because
she had been the person who arranged this lunch between

(22:20):
Latifa and Mary Robinson for the product of which were
these photographs, and then this statement by Mary Robinson that
Latifa was mentally unwell and basically shouldn't be believed and
Hire had sort of therefore been part of this propaganda
campaign by Ship Muhammad's government to try to dispel international
concern about Latifa, and then shortly afterwards actually ran away

(22:43):
herself and said help me, I'm in danger, and actually
by way of proved look what he's doing to Latifa,
and so you know, she kind of there was this
extraordinary reversal on her part and so's, yeah, she's a
fascinating character in all of this, and she's still living
in the She actually won the biggest dull settlement in

(23:03):
British legal history against Shapemhammed, and yeah, really sort of
delivered a pretty resounding blow to his reputation in this
court action that she was able to bring in all
of the appalling abuses that it brought to light.

Speaker 2 (23:19):
Latifa's sister, Shamsa, as you alluded to, had also attempted
to escape when she was in England, and she was
unsuccessful and wasn't able to claim asylum in England. Can
you briefly just just walk us through sort of what
Chamser's escape attempt had been like.

Speaker 3 (23:37):
Yeah, absolutely, I mean, so Chansa's escape is really the
sort of inciting incident that set off a whole chain
of events here that ultimately ended up with Latifa repeatedly
trying to escape herself, because Lativa's escape attempts were to
try to get help for Shamsa and Chanza had clashed
with shape Mohammed increasingly as she kind of grew older

(23:59):
as a teenager. She wanted to study, she wants she
wants to travel, she wants to go to university. She
didn't want to wear the a buyers, she wanted to
be able to drive, she wanted you know, those those
those sorts of freedoms that women in the West enjoy,
and she was denied all of that, and increasingly sort
of had this strained relationship with her father, and so

(24:21):
ultimately decided, when she was in her late teens that
she would run away. And she waited till she and
and some other members of the family had traveled to
Shakee Mohammed's summer house in the UK. She was staying
there with with the entourage, and she waited till after
dark one night and then slipped away and managed to

(24:44):
find a range rover that had been left unattended in
the ground, and she drove it out to the perimeter
of the estate, dumped the car and slipped through a
gate on foot and dumped her mobile phone and then
just sort of disappeared into the night, and it was
it was weeks before she was tracked down. She managed
to kind of stay on the run, find friends to

(25:06):
stay with, and she actually managed to contact an immigration lawyer,
a guy called Paul Simon, and asked him to help
her get asylum in the UK. She kind of walked
into this office of this small time lawyer and said,
I'm a runaway princess from the Dubai royal family, please
can you help me? Which must have been a pretty
extraordinary walking but he basically advised her that he wasn't

(25:26):
going to be able to help her because she didn't
have a passport. She'd left that behind at the house,
and so she was sort of out on her own,
and in her desperation, she turned to one of her
father's guards in the UK, a guy who she had
sort of come to trust over the course of her
summer's there, and asked him to help her. And instead
of helping her, he lured her into a kidnapping. She

(25:50):
was then dragged back to her father's estate and put
on a helicopter and then a private jet back to Dubai,
where she was held for decades under heavy sedation and
under constant guard, and as far as we know, still
is being held following that attempt all these years ago.

Speaker 2 (26:12):
I was about to say, we've gotten these sort of
heavily manicured photos on social media of Latifa, but is
there any evidence that Chamsa is alive.

Speaker 3 (26:24):
No, Shamsa really has sort of disappeared without trace. The
last chen pinpoint Shamsa's whereabouts is that there is an
extraordinary record that Latifa created of a meeting between the
two sisters, which was in the summer of twenty nineteen
in their father's desert compound. And they were actually both

(26:45):
summoned to meet shae Mohammad because they've been called to
testify in Princess Hya's case in London and he wanted
to make sure that they didn't do this, and so
he summoned them both to ask them to provide a
statement say they didn't wish to testify. When they refused
to comply, he just wrote to the court on their
behalf and said, my daughters have no wish to have

(27:06):
any part in this, but Shamsu and Nativa sort of
had this private moment together, and it's one of the things.
We've just released a podcast series about this story. And
one of the things for me that sort of most
compelling is to hear these extraordinary tapes that Theatifa made
during her imprisonment, and that some of these tapes after
the meeting with Shamsa are some of the most haunting

(27:27):
for me because just the raw pain and emotion in
her voice as she describes this moment of seeing her sister,
who she just adored and who she'd fought for and
she tried twice to escape for to try and get help,
she'd risked her life for. When this coming, this brief
coming together of these two women before they were wrenched
apart again, it's just absolutely heartrending. And after that, we

(27:51):
have no record of what happened to Shamsa. None of
the Royal insiders I spoke with were able to shed
any light on where she was or knew where she was.
When I spoke with Michelle Bashade, the former You and
Human Rights Commissioner who met with Latifa, She said that
something that had really struck her was that Latifa was
reasonably composed during their meeting, but when she asked about Shamsa,

(28:12):
Latifa had become suddenly very firm and had said, no,
I will not discuss my sister. I will I'm here
to talk about myself, and I will not ask answer
questions about her. And it seemed odd that she was.
There was such a hard line there, like there was
just something there that Latifa was absolutely not going to

(28:33):
go near. And so, you know, one dreads to think
what Shamsa's situation might be. You know, certainly for the
decades since she attempted to escape as a teenager, it
has been absolutely dire.

Speaker 2 (28:47):
And one thing that I found uniquely heartbreaking and a
little frightening that you detailed in your investigation was how
when English detective inspectors were trying to look into this case,
they were fairly continually stymied by higher up saying it's
none of our concern. Was that for political reasons?

Speaker 3 (29:11):
Yeah, I mean that was one of the sort of
real central mysteries of all of this was sort of
what happened to these attempts by the police to investigate
you know, in Chansa's case, she showed extraordinary resourcefulness as
an eighteen year old on the run, and that she
managed to instruct this lawyer to act for her, and
then having been kidnapped, she managed to get hold of

(29:33):
a phone and get a message to her lawyer saying
that she wanted the police to be involved, and her
lawyer then decided to ignore this and do nothing about it.
She then, after another six months of imprisonment, managed again
to get a message to her lawyer and this time
the police. You know, the police were notified that she
was alleging that she'd been kidnapped from the UK and

(29:54):
I was a detective who attempted to investigate. But he
described how you just were sort of blocked at every
turn and ultimately was told that he wasn't going to
be allowed to travel to Dubai to try to investigate
shams in situation, and so he decided to kind of
step away from the case. And you know, he certainly
felt clearly that that was politically motivated. You know, he

(30:16):
said to me, because you're a rich and powerful enough person,
you can break any law you like in our country
and get away with it, and that that had always
really frustrated him. And that was something I heard from
multiple police officers and also former government officials. I spoke
to you, that the relationship with the UAE was just
too strategically important for the government to compromise, you know,

(30:39):
over the individual fate of one or two or three princesses,
and they just weren't prepared to go to the map
for these women. They kind of viewed it as a
private family matter. And officials I spoke to you were
pretty you know, pretty confident that these sorts of things,
you know, blow over, and that they knew that. One
of them said that, you know, when and these sort

(31:00):
of things blew up with these members of Shapemhammad's family.
You know, they felt fairly confident they would be a
forty eight hour wonder and then everybody would move on
and forget. And I think that's right, you know, I
think they did get away with allowing this to happen
and shape Muhammad continues to enjoy a very cordial relationship
with the British government and you know, and is esteemed

(31:24):
on the world stage as you know, a progressive leader
in the Middle East. And despite all of this, that
continues to be the case.

Speaker 2 (31:31):
Well, that is a lot to think about. Heidi Blake.
To read more, read her incredible investigative reporting in The
New Yorker and listen to The New Yorker's brand new
podcast series, The Runaway Princesses. Thank you so much for
being here.

Speaker 3 (31:46):
Thank you so much, Daniel. This is a real pleasure.

Speaker 1 (31:53):
Noble Blood is a production of iHeartRadio and Grim and
Mild from Aaron Manki. Noble Blood is created and hosted
by me Dana Shwarts, with additional writing and researching by
Hannah Johnston, Hannah Zwick, Mira Hayward, Courtney Sender, and Lori Goodman.
The show is edited and produced by Noemi Griffin and

(32:17):
rima Il Kahali, with supervising producer Josh Thain and executive
producers Aaron Manke, Alex Williams, and Matt Frederick. For more
podcasts from iHeartRadio, visit the iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts, or
wherever you listen to your favorite shows.
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