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Imprisoned Saudi princesses tweet from their ‘gilded cage’

Four daughters of King Abdullah are locked up as punishment for criticizing the country's treatment of women. But they can tweet.


Kevin Collier

Internet Culture

Posted on Mar 11, 2014   Updated on May 31, 2021, 3:50 pm CDT

Four Saudi Arabian princesses, daughters of 89-year-old King Abdullah, say they’ve been locked away in “gilded cages,” barred from leaving their country or even their compound without permission. They’re “imprisoned, held against their will, cut off from the world,” their mother says, punishment for speaking out against the country’s treatment of women and the poor.

But they can tweet.

The four, each in their late 30s or early 40s, are the daughters Abdullah had with Alanoud Alfayez, who became his second wife when she was an adolescent. She later divorced him and moved to London. (Abdullah has refused to comment on the women’s charges.)

Princesses Sahar, 42, and Jawaher, 38, told London’s Sunday Times via emails and phone calls that the two had been held alone in a crumbling villa since 2001. They also tweet about their conditions: Sahar from @Art_Moqawama, Jawaher from @Jawaher1776, and Alanoud from @AlanoudDAlfayez.

A glimpse of our so-called ‘gilded cage’, a stereotypical word, portraying fantasy world. We live amidst ruins.

— Sahar ??? (@Art_Moqawama) March 9, 2014

@Navsteva The King’s complex is indeed gilded. Our house has bursting pipes, plaster chipping off, trees dying. More photos will be released

— Sahar ??? (@Art_Moqawama) March 10, 2014

Alanoud, who says she hasn’t seen any of her daughters in a decade, still tweets heartbreaking sentiments about their separation, returned by her daughters.

@AlanoudDAlfayez The only people that failed us is our father&so-called human rights orgs,you my strong amazing mother have always lifted us

— Jawaher ????? (@Jawaher1776) March 11, 2014

She told Britain’s Channel 4 News that of all her daughters, is most concerned about Hala, 39, who she says suffers from anorexia and severe psychological problems and is denied treatment. Sahar and Jawaher say that Hala, along with the fourth sister, 41-year-old Maha, live in a separate villa, and that the two pairs are denied access to each other. Update: Sahar has told the Daily Dot her other two sisters don’t have a Twitter presence.

Screengrab via Channel 4 News/YouTube

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*First Published: Mar 11, 2014, 12:56 pm CDT