On Friday UK based NGO, Detained in Dubai, approached the UAE embassy in London with a written offer to share experience and advice regarding the alarming and seemingly indiscriminate detention of visitors in the Emirates. Detained In Dubai partner David Haigh hand delivered an open letter to the UAE embassy in London’s Belgravia.
The UAE is keen to establish a reputation as a desirable destination for tourists as well as an international business hub, but many Westerners are avoiding the Emirates due to fear of the unforgiving legal system. Recent high profile cases include British citizens who faced jail for (to the Western mind) trivial reasons, including brushing past a man in a bar, making a rude gesture in traffic, and missing credit card payments.
Detained In Dubai’s letter offered a personal meeting with the UAE ambassador with a view to assist in the prevention of situations where British nationals are wrongfully detained or subjected to human rights violations in United Arab Emirates, and to help with strategies to avoid the inevitable negative publicity caused by such incidents.
Radha Stirling, CEO and founder of Detained in Dubai reiterated the spirit of the letter, confirming that Detained in Dubai would “welcome a meeting to discuss how to better protect visiting British nationals, and help the UAE become a safe destination for worldwide visitors. We understand that the UAE’s legal community and leadership are also driving towards this end, but we believe that without the benefit of a well informed outsider’s perspective, this process will take a lot longer to achieve the desired result.
“Through our experience defending visitors faced with often catastrophic punishments in the UAE, we have been able to collate information that will be of assistance to the Emirates’ authorities. We request an opportunity to discuss this with His Excellency Sulaiman Al Mazroui in the hope we can help the Emirates on their path to becoming regarded as a safe and desirable destination for worldwide visitors.”
David Haigh, Solicitor and Stirling’s partner, reported that although he was not received with visible enthusiasm when he personally delivered the message to the embassy, he was encouraged by the fact they accepted the open letter. He hopes they will read and consider the contents, and “accept Ms Stirling’s offer to meet in person.”
Haigh himself was tricked into taking a flight to Dubai on the pretence of a business deal in 2014. Instead of a business meeting, David was instead imprisoned and tortured at the hands of UAE officials in an attempt to deflect blame from powerful local owners of a business with which David was involved.
Haigh has since spoken to worldwide audiences about the dangers of visiting the UAE. David’s case has been covered by international media and recently he addressed the United Nations in Geneva on the subject of torture and human rights violations in the UAE.
Detained in Dubai has a ten year track record of working with governments and successfully helping trapped foreign nationals in the UAE.
These successes recently include working with the Malaysian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in response to Richard Lau’s dilemma (Richard was freed from prison this week in Ras Al Khaimah, after over 10 months of detention without charge) and with UK MP Priti Patel in the case of Asa Hutchinson, the young woman who has found herself facing charges of assault in Dubai, for simply witnessing an altercation involving IBM executive Bjorn Roden.
Stirling continues, “we will continue our efforts to improve the overall legal situation for UK nationals and foreigners in the UAE.
"The letter below is just one example of many enquiries we receive everyday from concerned travellers who are seeking assurances for their personal safety and that of family members."
Stirling explains, "we are obliged to give accurate advice to enquiries like this. The risks are greater than travelling elsewhere. Yes, many people travel to and through Dubai successfully, but the laws are currently so vague that anyone can become criminalised, regardless of their intent to behave lawfully and respect local customs.”