U.S. President Barack Obama (R) laughs as he meets with King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia
U.S. President Barack Obama (R) laughs as he meets with King Abdullah of Saudi ArabiaReuters

The former wife of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah Alanoud AlFayez has appealed to US president Barack Obama to help in the case of her four daughters who are allegedly being kept captive in a royal palace.

Jordanian national AlFayez, who married King Abdullah when she was 15 in an arranged marriage and divorced in 2003, said her children need to be "saved and released immediately".

"Since 13 years, my daughters Sahar, Maha, Hala and Jawaher are being held captive," AlFayez told AFP.

Obama is due to visit the Gulf Kingdom on Friday.

"Obama should take this opportunity to address these grave violations committed against my daughters," she said.

US lawmakers have already urged Obama to address rights violations in the Saudi monarchy.

Sahar, who at 42 is the eldest daughter, complained on Twitter about her situation, accusing the royal family of "unlawfully detaining" them and of "physically and psychologically abusing us for years".

According to reports, things deteriorated after AlFayez divorced the monarch and flew to London. The girls are said to be barred from leaving the country and cannot leave the palace without armed guards.

The mother has not seen them in person for a decade. Hala is believed to be suffering from extreme anorexia and psychological problems.

The 89-year-old king is worth an estimated £11bn and is courted by the West.

Obama is expected to bring the issue of rights in Saudi Arabia, including the efforts by female activists to defy the country's ban on women drivers.

Source: AFP