Ok I’d seen a couple of mentions of imprisoned Saudi princesses and hadn’t followed up, but thanks to yazikus posting some extracts in comments I now have. I didn’t realize they were Abdullah’s daughters. His own god damn daughters, imprisoned in some dark rooms on his say-so. It’s a tale of horror.
Sahar, Maha, Hala and Jawaher Al Saud are daughters of King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, the Saudi Arabian monarch who is worth an estimated $15 billion.
They grew up rich, and had a nice life. They wanted to study abroad and travel, then marry and have children.
Now they are prisoners.
Not only has the 89-year-old king forbidden any man to seek his daughters’ hands in marriage, he’s confined them, against their will, in separate dark and suffocating quarters at his palace.
The king’s eldest daughter, 42-year-old Sahar, spoke with The Post in a rare and surreptitious phone call.
“We are cut off and isolated and alone,” she says. “We are hostages. No one can come see us, and we can’t go see anyone. Our father is responsible and his sons, our half-brothers, are both culprits in this tragedy.”
Why are the princesses being held captive?
Because they believe women in Saudi Arabia, one of the most oppressive Islamic nations in the world, should be free. Their mother, Alanoud Al Fayez, long ago fled to London.
When the sisters openly spoke in opposition to women being illegally detained and placed in mental wards, the king had enough and no longer considered them his daughters.
“That was it for him. It was the end for us,” Sahar says.
That’s your “reformer” right there. That’s your man of wisdom and vision, Barack Obama. That’s your ally in the war on terror, everyone who said that.
“They once had a normal life for Saudi Arabia, but they are free thinkers, and their father hates that,” mom Al Fayez says. “They are compassionate about the plight of women in Saudi Arabia and throughout the Arab world. The injustices that we see are terrible, and someone must say something.”
She was handed over to him in an arranged marriage. In the first four years she had four daughters – so she was worthless and Abdullah The Reformer divorced her, though he didn’t bother telling her so until two years later. It’s nothing to do with her, after all.
In Saudi Arabia, a husband can divorce his wife without her knowledge.
“Really, he had divorced me a number of times and he’d abuse me, beat me and had me beaten by guards,” Al Fayez says. “And the more I took the abuse, the more I was abused.”
Abdullah the reformer. Abdullah the wise.
In 2001 she fled to London. Her daughters couldn’t go with her because Abdullah had taken their passports. She thought he would eventually let them go, if only to avoid embarrassment.
In 2002, less than one year after her escape, Abdullah began tormenting his daughters. They are in intermittent phone contact with their mother and have told her that he’s drugged their food and water to keep them docile.
“They had felt some oppression before I left, but when he found that I had gone, he vowed that he would kill the girls, slowly,” Al Fayez says. “At one point, he tried to get me to come back, saying that he would take away the divorce and release them, but that wasn’t true and I know that I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t trust that.”
It was then, about 2005, that she first began to fear for her daughters’ safety, she said. “That’s when I thought, now he’d do anything, even punish them till they die, which is exactly what he’s trying to do now.”
The king locked Sahar and the youngest, Jawaher, now 38, in one area of the palace, while confining Mahar, 41, and Hala, 39, to yet another closet-size and unkempt room.
Doctors aren’t even allowed in for checkups.
“The rooms they are locked in are so hot, they wilt from the desert heat,” Al Fayez says. They suffer from dehydration, nausea and heat stroke.
Her daughter Sahar says the king is starving them all to death. They haven’t had a full meal in more than a month, she says, and are forced to eat canned goods that they pry open with nail files.
I have to pause and take some deep breaths right now.
Power, running water and electricity are shut off at random, sometimes for days or even weeks at a time. Their rooms are overrun with bugs and rodents.
“Our energy is quite low, and we’re trying our best to survive,” Sahar says. Their “gilded cage” is only gilded on the outside. “We live amid ruins. You hear ‘palace,’ but we don’t feel like we’re in a palace at all.”
Some liar at the Saudi embassy in London told the Post they’re fine, fine. They can go anywhere they want to, it’s just that armed security guards have to go with them. Their mother says that’s a lie.
All four women are routinely tortured, sometimes by their own relatives.
“They come in, the men, our own half-brothers, and they beat us with sticks,” Sahar says. “They yell at us and tell us we will die here.”
Will things get better for them now?
What do you think.
“Sahar is very bright and has always made us laugh. She’s the eldest, and she’s an artist and a free thinker,” Al Fayez says.
“Maha is sensitive but has a penchant for business and politics. Hala is compassionate and brilliant; she majored in psychology and graduated at the top of her class. She loves to play the piano and compose music. Jawaher, my youngest, is very similar in character to Maha. She also loves music and hopes to earn a degree in sound engineering.”
Her daughters, she says, have much to offer. She says she taught each of them to be strong, to stand up to their powerful father, and now that has backfired.
She tried lawyers, but – surprise! – Abdullah refused to be questioned.
Sahar tells The Post that she’s constantly threatened by her father and has been told that death is the only way out.
“My father said that after his death, our brothers would continue to detain us and abuse us,” she says.
Al Fayez is frantic. Time, she says, is running out.
“My daughters want the right to see their mother, and I want to see my daughters,” Al Fayez says. “They are just trying to hold on to their sanity.
“They are suffering . . . with no hope for salvation.”
It’s a god damn outrage. We’re sucking up to these shits while this is going on.
Raif, Sahar, Maha, Hala, Jawaher.