A photograph posted this week on two public Instagram accounts purports to show Princess Latifa, the daughter of the ruler of Dubai, who has not been seen or heard from in months.
The photo appears to show Princess Latifa in a Dubai shopping mall, the Mall of the Emirates (MoE), sitting with two other women.
It was uploaded to Instagram, which does not include metadata that would show the date and time, as well as the precise time and location where the photo was taken.
The image is reversed. However, it shows a cinema advertising the film Demon Slayer: Mugen Train, which was released in the United Arab Emirates on 13 May 2021.
The image was posted on Instagram with comment, “Lovely evening at MoE with friends.”
While the picture’s authenticity is being questioned a friend of Latifa’s confirmed that it is the princess in the picture.
In a statement, David Haigh, co-founder of the Free Latifa campaign group, said: “We confirm that there have been several potentially significant and positive developments in the campaign. We do not intend to comment further at this stage, a further statement will be issued at the appropriate time.”
Latifa, one of the 25 children of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, attempted to escape from Dubai in February 2018.
In a video recorded shortly before she left, she explained that her life was heavily constricted. “I haven’t left the country since 2000. I’ve been asking a lot to just go travelling, to study, to do anything normal. They don’t let me,” she said.
But the escape went wrong: eight days into a daring sea journey across the Indian Ocean, they were caught by commandoes who forcibly removed Latifa and returned her to Dubai.
Her father later said that he considered this a “rescue mission”.
A report in February 2021 said she was being held alone without access to medical or legal help in a villa with windows and doors barred shut, and guarded by police.