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Storm over Oxford University scholarship named after ruler accused of holding own daughter captive


Outrage over Oxford University scholarship named after Dubai ruler accused of holding his daughter Princess Latifa captive

  • Oxford runs scholarship in name of Sheikh who ‘held his own daughter hostage’ 
  • Uni accused of double standards over decision to accept scholarship funding
  • It previously faced calls to rename scholarship created in name of Cecil Rhodes 

The University of Oxford accepted funding from the ruler of Dubai who is accused of holding his own daughter captive, it can be revealed today.

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The university runs a scholarship scheme in the name of Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum, whose daughter Latifa said she was held hostage for years by his henchmen.

Campaigners accused Oxford of double standards over its decision to accept his scholarship funding while the sheikh’s daughter was denied the same educational freedoms as its students.

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Oxford said last night the agreement with the ruler was reached in 2016, before the allegations came to light, but said it had ‘no plans to review or change the scholarship at this time’.

The university runs a scholarship scheme in the name of Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum, whose daughter Latifa said she was held hostage for years by his henchmen

The university runs a scholarship scheme in the name of Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum, whose daughter Latifa said she was held hostage for years by his henchmen

The university previously faced calls to rename a scholarship created in the name of imperialist Cecil Rhodes, and remains embroiled in a row over whether his statue should be removed from outside Oriel College.

This week it emerged that Princess Latifa, 35, had secretly recorded messages saying she feared for her life.

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In the videos released to the BBC, she said she was drugged and forcibly returned to Dubai after she tried to escape in 2018, and had been kept in solitary confinement inside a barricaded ‘villa-jail’ since then.

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Campaigners will next week ask the Foreign Office to impose sanctions on Sheikh Mohammed, 71, which could include a travel ban and restrictions on his business interests in Britain.

He owns a multi-million-pound racehorse centre near Newmarket.

Lawyer David Haigh, of the Free Latifa campaign, called on Oxford, ranked the best university in the world, to review its links to Sheikh Mohammed.

He told the Mail: ‘This scholarship is a PR exercise to distract attention away from human rights abuses. Latifa has been denied her education and her freedom.

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‘By accepting money from her father, Oxford sends a message to its students and to the world that it accepts and tolerates his behaviour.’

This week it emerged that Princess Latifa, 35, had secretly recorded messages saying she feared for her life

This week it emerged that Princess Latifa, 35, had secretly recorded messages saying she feared for her life

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The scholarship, which is jointly funded by Oxford and the sheikh’s £7.2billion knowledge foundation, was set up in 2016.

Post-graduate students from North Africa and the Middle East can apply to have their course fees covered – typically about £27,000 – and receive a grant for living costs.

The foundation pays for scholarships with other universities. At least four students are known to have accepted scholarships, including a woman from Dubai.

Sheikh Mohammed has denied his daughter’s allegations.

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A spokeswoman for Oxford said: ‘The agreement between the university and Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum Knowledge Foundation was signed in 2016 and we have no plans to review or change the scholarship at this time.’

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