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Saudi King Holds Daughters Prisoners for 13 Years

Mon, March 24, 2014

Princess Alanoud Al Fayez (center) married then Prince Abdullah in an arranged marriage when she as just 15. She bore him four daughters: Sahar, Maha, Hala and Jawaher who are now being held as prisoners in a compound in Jeddah.

Princess Alanoud Al Fayez (center) married then Prince Abdullah in an arranged marriage when she as just 15. She bore him four daughters: Sahar, Maha, Hala and Jawaher who are now being held as prisoners in a compound in Jeddah.

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has kept four of his daughters locked in a royal compound in Jeddah for the last 13 years. Their mother, his second wife who fled to London after the couple's divorce, broke the silence and told Britain’s Channel Four about their plight. She has not seen her children for 10 years.

Princess Alanoud Al Fayez married then Prince Abdullah in an arranged marriage when she as just 15. She bore him four daughters: Sahar, Maha, Hala and Jawaher. 

The four have been kept in a compound in the eastern port city of Jeddah, which they cannot leave without armed guards. Their passports have been taken away, and they are barred from leaving the country. Their villa is dilapidated and falling apart, far from the living quarters of the princesses’ privileged childhood.

Princess Sahar, the oldest of the four, was in email contact with Channel Four’s Fatima Manji. She sent pictures and descriptions of their life in the compound and explained the treatment that they are suffering.

She said “People don't realize how hard our situation is. They still see us as 'pampered' Saudi princesses ... We suffer on a daily basis.”

She also used the opportunity to attack the treatment of women in Saudi society, saying, “Women and children [in Saudi Arabia] are abused, while their male guardians enjoy privileges granted by the court in cases of domestic abuse. Princes and the elite entourage are protected and the victims and their families suffer injustice.”

She said that she was speaking out after her father, thought to be 89 years old, threatened that they would remain captives even after his death, as their brothers would continue to imprison them.

Princess Al Fayez has made every effort to see her children released, including submitting a deposition to the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights.