Avoid the UAE…you’ll get a life sentence!

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This topic contains 27 replies, has 17 voices, and was last updated by  capetonianm 27 Nov 2018
at 00:07

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  • openfly

    What a dreadful situation for the young student to find himself in. Life in prison in Dubai on a trumped up charge of “spying”. A ten minute trial. Too much of a risk…don’t even stop over there.

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    I wrote an article (copied below) on my own travel blog several years ago titled: Dubai – is visiting worth the risk?

    There are plenty of places to visit in the World. Dubai is just one of them. Dubai is a city in the United Arab Emirates, located within the emirate. The emirate of Dubai is located on the southeast coast of the Persian Gulf and is one of the seven emirates that make up the country.

    When I visited a few years ago on business, the people were friendly, the Burj Khalifa (world’s tallest building) and the fountain light show outside the Dubai Mall were impressive. But the view from the Burj Khalifa wasn’t as good as that from the World Trade Centre (sadly destroyed), Empire State, Toronto CN Tower or the top of some skyscrapers in Hong Kong or Bangkok. Why? Because there isn’t anything really to see from there; just a few other skyscrapers, roads and desert. The fountain show was about the same as the Bellagio Fountain show in Las Vegas. The Dubai Mall was huge, but I didn’t find things there any better value than the UK or US.

    There are plenty of Dubai holidays on offer. With a five or so hour flight direct from Europe, it’s tempting to take a holiday there and enjoy the luxury hotels and sunshine. But is it worth the risk?

    My trip was largely uneventful. But I did visit an expat Irish Pub (next door to the hotel) and had a beer there. The pub was really busy and there were a lot of attractive Western girls there. One was a bit drunk and was swaying to the music and hugging some guy at the bar – just seemed like a normal pub night to me. Then she started dancing around a little bit and then the next thing some bouncers for the bar arrived and asked her and her companion to leave. After they left, she was breaking the law by being drunk in public. In fact, she was breaking the law already by showing too much affection in public. I’m hoping she got home okay, but if the taxi driver took a dislike to her, he could have driven to the police station. Worse still, if the taxi driver decided to rape her, there wouldn’t be much she could do about it.

    Take the case of a 24-year-old Norwegian, Marte Deborah Dalelv. She reported to Dubai police that she was raped by a Sudanese colleague while in Dubai earlier this year. She was arrested and given a 16-month jail sentence for having extramarital sex and drinking alcohol. The Sudanese alleged rapist was charged with the same offences – not rape. She has just been ‘pardoned’ and allowed to return home – but so has the Sudanese.

    The Atlantis Hotel in Dubai looks amazing. But there’s a carbon copy of it in the Bahamas. The difference is that an unmarried couple who visit Dubai and stay there in the same room are breaking the law. Most people, say “Oh they don’t bother about that” and I’m guessing that 9/10 times they don’t. But say if that couple have something stolen from their room and report it. The police could easily arrest them. If the same couple exchange a kiss while watching the Dubai Mall fountain show, they could also be arrested.

    There are also other cases of extreme arrests:

    Briton Keith Brown and his wife had been on their way from London to Ethiopia when they were stopped and searched at Dubai airport. At first customs officers found nothing, but then a roll-up cigarette was spotted caught in the tread of his shoe. The 43-year-old, from Middlesex, was charged with possession of 0.003g of cannabis and was sentenced to four years in prison.
    Briton Tracy Wilkinson was held in custody for eight weeks before customs officers accepted the codeine she was carrying had been prescribed by her doctor for back pains.
    A Swiss national is serving a four-year jail term after three poppy seeds from a bread roll he ate at Heathrow airport were found on his clothes.
    My advice is: Why bother taking the risk? You can have an amazing holiday in other destinations with normal, fairer laws.


    It is a vile and despicable place. Hypocritical, exploitative, a despotic dictatorship, a carbuncle on the backside of the world.

    I will ever even fly on their airline.

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    Dubai’s, and for that matter, Emirates airlines, depends on both tourism and of course transfer passengers through their Dubai hub. The two work hand in hand even promoting Dubai stays by breaking one’s journey there at no extra cost to the airfare.

    A lot of social reality stars go there for breaks, and while they are Z list stars they have very big followings, with many of their followers going to Dubai in the hope of seeing them there. It needs these very personalities to publicly announce they are cancelling their holidays for the government there to take any notice. Sorry, but Jeremy Hunt is unlikely to cut it with them and they know it as they spend too much money in the UK.

    Few of these Z-listers are married, they drink, get drink, party in skimpy costumes, and are completely tolerated because of their social presence. The Dubai government would not dare do anything to them which is why public denunciations from them would more likely work than any UK Gov demands.

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    Hopefully the good that will come from this case is that the negative publicity and the diplomatic row will serve to discourage people from travelling to, or via, this cesspit.

    The utter hypocrisy of an Islamic country which bases its ‘tourist’ trade on the sex trade and alcohol is beyond belief. I have no problem with Islam, with prostitution, or with alcohol, it’s the stinking hypocrisy which I find so repugnant.

    Radha Stirling, CEO of Detained in Dubai, statement on the shock life sentencing of UK student Matthew Hedges for “spying” in UAE.
    Detained In Dubai – Nov 21, 2018 13:35 GMT

    UK student Matthew Hedges jailed for life in the UAE for “spying”. Pictured here hiking with wife Daniela

    Statement from Radha Stirling (CEO of Detained in Dubai): “The announcement that Matthew Hedges has been sentenced to life imprisonment in Abu Dhabi has sent shockwaves through the British and international community as well as the academic community who I have advised to suspend research trips to the Emirates. UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt told the press he was ‘deeply shocked and disappointed’, adding that Wednesday’s sentencing was ‘not what London expected from an ally.’

    ‘Today’s verdict is not what we expect from a friend and trusted partner of the United Kingdom and runs contrary to earlier assurances,’ Hunt said in a statement.

    ‘The handling of this case by the UAE authorities will have repercussions for the relationship between our two countries, which has to be built on trust.

    ‘I regret the fact that we have reached this position and I urge the UAE to reconsider.’

    Jeremy’s comments will be echoed in Washington next week where I will be speaking on the UAE’s increasingly outrageous and lawless behaviour towards citizens of their allies. The UAE continues to ignore repeated requests from the United Nations to answer their demands regarding an illegal and militarised attack on a US flagged yacht and the kidnapping of a US citizen and a Finnish national in international waters.

    It is reassuring to see how seriously the UK’s foreign secretary is taking this matter and I have seen similar growing concern in the United States and Australia as to whether the Gulf nation is truly an ally or actually a threat to national interests. What would be even more pleasing is if the UAE put an end to human rights violations, kangaroo courts, abductions and torture but this is a hope for the far future, not something that can be achieved in the next decade or so. For the moment, the UAE consistently displays that reality is a complete contradiction to the modern image its PR companies try to push to Western tourists and investors.

    I fully expect that Matthew Hedges will launch an appeal but we must remember that he will be facing a judicial system that is known for corruption, unfair trials, forced confessions and discrimination. The UK courts have repeatedly denied all extradition requests to the country on this basis and, in Matthew’s case, the ultimate determination of his matter will come down to the ruling party, not to the legal system.

    We at Detained in Dubai have dealt with in excess of 10,000 cases over the past decade and highlighted ongoing human rights violations to the international media, foreign governments, the private sector and the general public. We are appalled that the UAE has blatantly ignored the United Nations, leading human rights organisations, international law, even their own laws and constitution. The country has become so confident that it believes throwing money around the UK and US is a licence to jail, torture, kidnap and kill. If the UAE is allowed to continue in this manner, like the recently Khashoggi murder, nobody is safe.”

    UAE Criminal and Civil Justice Specialists. Contact us on info@detainedindubai.org

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    When I was young and stupid (in the early 60’s) I ocassionally transited through the Middle East on flight to and from Asia/South Pacific. Learnt my lesson when I was to go (for work) to Saudi when I discovered that you had to believe in some sort of god fairy to get a visa. I did not go and have been no where near them since. They are disgusting places with no idea of human decency but luckily, unlike Iran there are not too many “must see” sights that I feel I’m missing out on. KEEP AWAY from such cess pits – I may now be old and stupid but not stupid enough to visit that part of the world.

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    I have been on this particular crusade for a number of years. It has often been difficult to dissuade people, particularly those in the more price-sensitive sector, from travelling on EK as they are often the cheapest and offer a very generous baggage allowance and as is generally acknowledged, their service is pretty good until anything goes wrong.

    I have been delighted in the last few days at several messages I have received from people who say they now won’t travel on EK or go to DXB under any circumstances. It probably needs to extend to the entire UAE and all its airlines, but DXB and EK are the epicentre of the stinking and exploitative trade that the place represents.

    Recent news is that EK is suffering a drop in profits. Long may that continue! I have a dream of empty aircraft flying to a place of empty hotels. I am sorry for the decent but exploited folk who will lose their jobs and livelihood, particularly the poor slaves from the Indian sub-continent.

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    have visited a few of the Gulf states, just out of interest, and found them all equally depressing. No ME3 for me thank you if it means passing through the places I visited.


    Like many on this forum, I’ve always been fascinated with the world and eager to experience new destinations. As stated by others, I had found the often attractive F fares on the ME3 coupled with a few days of stopover to be a great way to get myself from my base in California to Africa which I go to several times a year. No more.

    Further, I’ve found Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha to be rather uninteresting. Other than perhaps the Louvre Abu Dhabi, I honest cannot think of any worthwhile memories from those visits.

    Next month, I’ll fork over a bit more money to have Lufthansa take me there and Swiss on the way home.


    Whilst i must be in the minority and like flying EK, I would never pass through land side at Dubai in fact most of that entire region is on my never go to visit list because of the lack of a fair and reasonable judicial system. I would love to go to Iran sightseeing but just wouldnt take the risk

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    Used to go to Dubai every year for some winter sun. Now I wouldn’t go there if you paid me. Thought they were getting more ‘tolerant’, but unfortunately being a same sex couple, we won’t take the risk!

    4 users thanked author for this post.


    Worked in Jeddah and Dubai a long time ago when both were respectful of foreigners who respected them and the old rule: “when in Rome”.
    Today they seem to not know who pays their income (Dubai has no oil!) or who assists in their defence (refer to President Trump’s recent quote!).
    Agree with many (above) that they maybe due a sad awakening when incomes fall in the west and Asia and if they don’t tolerate a few mistakes by visitors they may not have many!


    I have, occasionally, read some drivel on this forum. Not often, its fair to say, but this thread is full of total & utter drivel & fake “news”. I have never visited a country with a more balanced, harmonious population than the UAE, full of many many content residents, striving for growth & success. There are many other countries that could learn a thing own two form the Emiratis.

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    @ thebigseats…. You obviously disagree with the comments of Jeremy Hunt, the U.K. Foreign Secretary. Matthew Hedges life sentence is NOT fake news.

    3 users thanked author for this post.


    The region can appear to be a chameleon, changing it’s appearance & rules to invite investment, especially evident where international sporting events are concerned. I still cant understand how a country without a decent football stadium or team wins the right to stage the FIFA World cup, especially considering certain categories (apologies, I am sure there is a more appropriate word) of people could be either refused admission into the region or arrested for not meeting meeting the regions moral standards for decency.

    Refusing to play certain countries national anthems at sporting events in the region (swimming and judo recent examples) also goes against the principle of ‘fair play’ and ‘Kick it out’. Quite simply, if the region wishes to exclude certain people from their country, they can not be expected to host events which are meant to be open to the “world”…

    On the flip side, as long as your hosts are made aware in advance of any issues, such as countries visited, if it is going to be a problem, they will let you know. I am respectful of where I go, but if I need to hide any part of my life in order to visit a country whether for business or pleasure, I choose to avoid…

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