Locked up in the Potemkin village

Ishaan Tharoor at the Washington Post has the story of Abdullah’s daughters, but he makes clear that he’s reporting reports as opposed to an investigation. He says there are some doubts as to how confined the daughters are. Maybe they’re only a little bit held against their will.

Abdullah’s reforms, writes one commentator, have “all the substance of a Potemkin village, a flimsy structure to impress foreign opinion.”

Closer to home, moreover, there are a few women related to the late monarch who may object to the praise being heaped upon him. Abdullah, like other Saudi royals, had numerous wives — at least seven, and perhaps as many as 30. He had at least 15 daughters. Four of them, according to news reports, live under house arrest.

Fayez claims her daughters’ supposed incarceration, which has gone on for some 13 years, was both a mark of Abdullah’s vindictive streak and intolerance of his daughters’ modern, independent upbringing. She says the four have been locked away for more than a decade, subject to abuse and deprivation.

She said it last April. Apparently her ex didn’t sue her for libel, even though she’s right there in London, convenient for libel tourism even after the tweak to the libel law…so that seems like an indication that she’s not telling a big ol’ story.

Last year, various news stations managed to reach Sahar, 42, and Jawaher, 38, who live in a separate compound from Maha, 41, and Hala, 39. In an interview with RT last May, the pair described how they were running out of food and water.

There are some doubts about the extent to which the women are living in genuine captivity. When confronted with the daughters’ claims, Saudi authorities have been tight-lipped, insisting that the situation “is a private matter.” The women have not been formally charged with any crime.

Maybe they’re allowed to go outside for half an hour once a week? Who knows.

Since the spasm of media stories last year, reports on the condition of the princesses have dried up. On social media, their mother continues to call for their release, using the hashtag #Freethe4. She holds regular protests in London urging action.

Our dear dear ally.


  1. says

    Our dear dear ally.

    But they have oil.

    It’s about the money. It’s always about the money.

    America is a very religious country, with deep worship for The Almighty Dollar.

  2. opposablethumbs says

    America is a very religious country, with deep worship for The Almighty Dollar.

    Unlike the other kind which we are somewhat more Eurotypical about, sadly this is one religion the UK is just as devoted to as the US.
    The princesses who are in favour have all the freedoms that matter of course (excuse me while I choke on that attempt at sarcasm) – such as having the most exclusive London shops shut down for an evening for their sole use, so that the mere millionaires who comprise the regular clientèle are excluded while they peruse and buy entire collections of one-off handmade luxury fashion accessories. This is deemed more TV-worthy than eternal confinement for their relatives.

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