Ms Alfayez was only 15 years old when she married King Abdullah, who was then in his 40s, but he divorced her just over a decade later

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2576600/Prisoners-palace-Saudi-princesses-plead-help-claim-held-king-against-will.html

Prisoners at the palace: Saudi princesses plead for help as they claim they are being held by the king against their will

  • Princesses plead for help from captivity at royal compound in Jeddah
  • Their mother has written to UN human rights agency to intervene
  • Sahar, 42, and Jawaher, 38, claim they can only go out to shop for food
  • Saudi Arabia is one of the world’s worst countries for women’s rights

By Damien Gayle

 

King Abdullah: Two daughters of the Saudi leader say that they and their sisters are being held against their will in the royal compound in Jeddah

King Abdullah: Two daughters of the Saudi leader say that they and their sisters are being held against their will in the royal compound in Jeddah

Two daughters of the King of Saudi Arabia claim they and their sisters have been held prisoner in the royal palace for 13 years.

Princesses Sahar, 42, and Jawaher, 38, said that they are being kept against their will in a guarded villa in the royal compound in Jeddah.

Their claims shed light into the usually secret world of royal family of a country where women are effectively treated as second-class citizens.

Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world that prohibits women from driving. It scored 130th out of 134 countries analysed by the World Economic forum in a 2009 report on gender parity.

But the restrictions allegedly placed on Sahar and Jawaher go well beyond what is allowed under Saudi law.

In emails and phonecalls to a Sunday newspaper, Sahar and Jawaher claimed that their sisters Hala, 39, and Maha, 41, are also being held, incommunicado, in separate villas in the Jeddah compound.

Their mother Alanoud Alfayez, who is divorced from Saudi King Abdullah, has reportedly written to the UN’s human rights agency to intervene on their behalf.

She told the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) that her daughters are ‘imprisoned, held against their will, cut off from the world’, according to a report in The Sunday Times.

Sahar and Jawaher told the newspaper in an email that they are kept alone in a house most of which they have closed off as they have been left to fend for themselves with nobody to help them with the housework.

Royal visit: King Abdullah, who has 38 children by many wives, is pictured with the Queen in London in 2007

Royal visit: King Abdullah, who has 38 children by many wives, is pictured with the Queen in London in 2007

‘We slowly watch each other fading away into nothingness,’ they said, adding that their sister Hala had told them ‘that her mind is slipping away … that the life is being sucked out of her.’

They added that they can only go out to shop for food – and even for this, they need permission from a half-brother whom the king has put in charge of them.

It was also revealed that Sahar found a teller’s job at a bank through a friend, which she enjoyed because it ‘saved me from the monotony and tediousness of life in Saudi’. 

However, upon telling her father that she wanted to start working full time, he blocked it – and said he did not want any of his daughters to be an employee.

‘I tried to persuade him that it was a small women’s bank that dealt with university students’ accounts and that it was quite a decent place,’ she said. ‘He ridiculed my efforts.’

King Abdullah and Prince Philip review a Guard of Honour at Horse Guards, London: Saudi Arabia is a key Middle-East ally of the West. Its royal family enjoy massive wealth, with the king one of the world's richest men

King Abdullah and Prince Philip review a Guard of Honour at Horse Guards, London: Saudi Arabia is a key Middle-East ally of the West. Its royal family enjoy massive wealth, with the king one of the world’s richest men

 

Abdullah became king of Saudi Arabia in 2005. The oil-rich state is a key ally of the U.S. in the Middle East and its extensive royal family enjoy massive wealth, with the king one of the world’s richest men.

Ms Alfayez was only 15 years old when she married King Abdullah, who was then in his 40s, but he divorced her just over a decade later. 

The king, who has 38 children by a number of wives, has placed his four daughters with Alfayez under the control of three of their half-brothers, according to Sahar.

Under Saudi law, girls and women are forbidden from travelling, conducting official business, or undergoing certain medical procedures without the express permission of their male guardians.

Sahar said that the sisters had enjoyed a pampered adolescence but that animosity towards her and her sisters had grown after they began to complain to their father about the poverty endured by most of the Saudi people.

In discussion: Former US president George W. Bush (left) talks with King Abdullah before a dinner at Al Janadriyah Ranch in Saudi Arabia, in January 2008

In discussion: Former US president George W. Bush (left) talks with King Abdullah before a dinner at Al Janadriyah Ranch in Saudi Arabia, in January 2008

 

Some of the young princes had also criticised them because of their party-loving lifestyle.

‘We slowly watch each other fading away into nothingness’

 

But it was in the late Nineties that matters came to a head when Hala, who has a degree in psychology, complained that the regime’s political opponents were being locked up in the psychiatric wards of the hospital where she worked.

The Sunday Times said that full details of the allegations made by the sisters and their mother had been put to the Saudi embassy, but there had been no reply.

The OHCHR said that it would pass on Ms Alfayez’s letter to Rashida Manjoo, who is the UN special rapporteur on violence against women.

 

 

SAUDI KINGDOM – They are all the same and equal in the sight of God

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/the-confinement-of-four-saudi-princesses-is-a-reminder-that–the-gulf-states-are-evil-empires-especially-if-you-are-a-woman-9179981.html

“… Yasmin Alibhai Brown

The confinement of four Saudi princesses is a reminder that the Gulf states are evil empires, especially if you are a woman

In the country where Islam’s most precious shrine is located, there is no equality, no dignity, no basic humanity extended to daughters, sisters, or mothers ::

A story appeared this weekend which has really shaken me up. It was about four Arab princesses – Sahar, 42, Jawaher, 38, Maha, 41, and Hala, 39 – daughters of the ailing King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, who have, allegedly, been held under palace arrest, for 13 years. He has given his sons control over the captives. They are allowed no visitors or staff. Two are held in one gilded, echoing cage, the other two in another. Their mother Alanoud Alfayez, 57, lives in London and has been trying all these years to free her daughters who are unmarried, childless and fading away. Hala has serious mental problems. Two of the sisters contacted the British-Lebanese Sunday Times writer, Hala Jaber, via email and she wrote about their cruel incarceration. Jaber is an inspiring award-winning investigative journalist. I am in awe of her, more so now than ever before.

She did what I should have. She proved herself a worthy, honourable journalist; I failed. About eight years ago (I think) I was contacted by Alanoud Alfayez. I invited her to my home and she arrived with a big bunch of flowers. She was in her forties and incredibly beautiful. Her perfume overpowered the scent of the pink lilies she’d brought. She told me about her life, a fairy tale. She was from a well-connected Jordanian family and they had arranged for her to marry Abdullah when she was only 15. He was then a top chap in the army, much older, handsome and urbane. He won her heart and she became his second wife. In time he became the ruler. Afterwards he took several other wives and fathered over 30 children. She had her daughters, one after another. She must have been pregnant for most of those years.

The girls were beautiful, loved and spoilt by their father. Unusually, he allowed them to travel, to go on skiing trips and filled their lives with money and things. They went to college, developed ambitions and discovered talents. And then, suddenly, their mum was set adrift – her husband decided to divorce her and did, just by telling her, the way they can in Islam. She went to Jordan with her children. Abdullah wooed her back, didn’t keep his promises and he divorced her again, but kept the daughters. She fled to London in 2002. When we talked, I felt she still loved him.

He is punishing her for going away, by slowly letting his daughters lose their heads and hopes. I listened and witnessed her distress. Then I gave her contact details for Anthony Lester, QC, now a peer. Perhaps he could give her legal advice, I said, and maybe find a way of helping to release her daughters. I thought she had got what she prayed for because she never contacted me again. Now all these years have gone by. I think perhaps I thought someone who was so wealthy and privileged would find a way. I want to apologise to this mother for the careless assumptions I made.

Saudi Arabia is an evil empire, as are other Gulf States. In these nations the oppression of women is institutionalised and embedded. A Human Rights Watch report states unambiguously that Saudi rulers have failed to protect nine million females and nine million foreign workers. Although there is now the first ever female editor of a newspaper, Samayya Jabari, Saudi Arabia is a hellhole, its rules and rulers – best mates with our politicians – monsters.

When Muslims go on pilgrimage to Mecca, men and women perform the rituals together, dressed the same. They are all the same and equal in the sight of God.

But in the country where Islam’s most precious shrine is located, there is no equality, no dignity, no basic humanity extended to daughters, sisters, mothers and grandmothers. Saudi feminists say their mothers and grandmothers could travel without permission. Now they can’t. Last July a car chased by the religious police crashed. The driver was killed. His wife needed her hand amputated but doctors couldn’t operate because no male relatives had authorised the procedure.

When I taught English as a foreign language, a student, another princess, killed herself in London because she didn’t want to go back home. She turned on the gold taps in her bath and got in after taking an overdose. She left me a gold pendant with the name of Allah, which a servant smuggled to me. He told me, “She will have a happy life in paradise. Not easy to be a princess in my country.”

Economic and resource dependency have made our politicians cowardly.  They say nothing about these violations or the Saudi takeover of Islam in Britain. Please, let some of them speak up for these four sisters before they too float  off to paradise.