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UAE tourists from UK suffer bootleg detentions; all that glitters is not gold

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Dubai, United Arab Emirates — Jamie Harron, a Scottish electrician, and one of the UAE tourists, was detained for three months in the jail for accidentally touching a man’s hip in a bar.

A British-man, David Haigh, who headed a professional soccer team, was ordered seven months in jail for a tweet, which was possibly not done by him, since he was already serving his term in jail, without a phone.

Dubai and Abu Dhabi, the wealthiest Emirates, welcome foreigners in great numbers. The boasters claim that Dubai is the fourth most-visited tourism destination in the world, and holds at least 12 times as many foreigners as residents.

However, a judicial system, which is guided by the hard-line version of Shariah law, often leads UAE tourists and expats in jail. And surprisingly, some of these offenses, the Westerners wonder are even crimes at all.

The lawyers have been often quoted, criticizing the offenses including, holding hands in public; consuming alcohol without a license; and staying in a hotel room with the opposite gender (other than the spouse).

Dubai is known for a peppy night life, with a number of gay bars and cabaret where prostitutes woo the customers in public. Yet having sexual relations without marriage is a crime, homosexuality leads to death penalty (though it is seldom practiced), and punishment for prostitution is a nightmare for many.

Radha Stirling, a British lawyer, has represented numerous Westerners, especially from the UK, who have been confined in Dubai for conduct that is usually not a crime there.

The Western culture totally differs from the Arab culture” Judge Ahmad Saif, head of the Dubai civil court, said. He added, “In their countries, flashing your middle finger or insulting another is not acceptable but it is not punishable by the law. The culture for people living in the UAE is much different. At the end of the day, we are Muslims and committing such acts is not acceptable.”

The UAE tourists and expats often complain that its judicial system is built against them, and the nation has been accused by both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch of arbitrary confinement and abuse of prisoners.

Furthermore, the United Arab Emirates has also established strict rules for social media, making it an offense to criticize the country, its nationals or trades on platforms like Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. The law is mainly targeted on the domestic critics.

Other offenses that can lead you in jail, while in the Emirate includes, staring at someone, even non-deliberately; delaying or not paying credit-card bills; clicking someone’s picture without his or her permission; and touching someone.

Football

What’s Magnetizing Saudi to Bid for Manchester United Time and Again?

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Saudi Arabia bids to buy Manchester United, premier league

Rumours about Saudi’s bid of taking over the Premier League Club, Manchester United, keep coming out in the media. Recently, it was reported that Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) offered £3.8bn takeover bid of the club.

However, in a statement on Monday the nation dismissed its plans of taking over the club. The news is “completely untrue,” Saudi information minister Turki Alshabanah wrote on Twitter.

According to the sources, “The club held a meeting with the Public Investment Fund to discuss an advertising sponsorship project, and the Fund listened to the proposals as any investment and did not produce any results,” Turki Alshabanah said.

Despite that it cannot be said for how long can Saudi stick by its guns. Even back in October last year, the Kingdom made an offer to acquire the club, but could not capitalize on the opportunity following the claims of murdering Saudi Journalist, Jamal Khashoggi.

The Need of the Hour

Managing image in the West has been the Kingdom’s topmost priority for a very long time. Even as recently as last week the Journal reported that the nation’s collaboration with the Western media was exposed hoaxing MbS’ reform.

The Crown Prince had reportedly signed a deal with Vice Media, under which the media house was directed to produce documentaries and influence the Western nations.

Manchester United has bagged the coveted Premier League Trophy 13 times, more than any other club in the history, and maybe this is what brings the Saudis to the table. The club is currently owned by Glazer family, who purchased it in 2005 for £790million.

Besides, Saudi’s close aide and long-time ally, UAE, has successfully been spreading their message of positivity all over the world using football as a tool.

This is especially the case because the City’s owner, Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al Nahyan, belongs to the royal family of Abu Dhabi. Together with Khaldoon al-Mubark, his youthful executive and advisor to royal family, he holds the key to delegate how the management works.

In fact, UAE doesn’t stop here, the Emirate has found its own City Football Group (CFG) and it owns or co-owns six clubs across four continents. The group, as reported by the Guardian, has contracted more than 240 male professionals, and two dozen women.

The UAE’s bridge to the West is exactly what the Kingdom aims at replicating by trying to reach Manchester United. Therefore, the probability of owning the club to promote the national image is still on the cards for them.

Conversely, Saudi-UAE have raged a war against humanity in Yemen, killing more than 10,000 people. Both nations have also continuously faced the heat over the detention of human right activists, and for barring people to express what’s right. However, big strides in the West aimed at fixing and building reputation is what the two gulf nations have continuously worked on.

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UK Outraged by Trump’s Threat of Releasing 800 ISIS Fighters

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The US forces fighting in Syria captured some 800 ISIS fighters that it wants the EU to take into custody, not doing which will result in their release. The threat came from US President Donald Trump who has been exceptionally vocal about his views, even though bizarre, especially on Twitter. The threat has left most of the European officials angered while others, a bit confused in disappointment. The said reaction was witnessed recently at the Munich Security Conference, held in Germany. The event saw European officials and security experts outraging over Trump’s statement on releasing 800 ISIS fighters on EU’s failure in taking them back.

While other countries of the likes of France, have come forward with the solution of taking back their ex-Jihadists, UK, on the other hand has shown resistance. The UK government has especially expressed the confusion, keeping in mind the wives and children of the fighters who pose challenge in the decision making. Therefore, the government is now uncertain about releasing a final verdict on the fighters, whether or not to prosecute them.

Another option considered is to ensure stopping the fighters from carrying out any sort of terrorist activity in their home country. Meanwhile, another condition put forth by the UK government for taking back fighters is for them to get consular help in Turkey.

The tweet in question that is said to have started the entire issue read, “The United States is asking Britain, France, Germany and other European allies to take back over 800 Isis fighters that we captured in Syria and put them on trial. The Caliphate is ready to fall. The alternative is not a good one in that we will be forced to release them.”

Foreign Secretary of UK, Jeremy Hunt as said in one of his previous interviews to an Arab media that his government is not planning to send across anymore military forces to fight in Syria. However, Hunt also emphasized on the fact that he will entertain all of US’ request.

ISIS militants have been preventing 1000’s of civilians from leaving the region, according to a Syrian Defence Force spokesperson. Shamima Begum, 19, is the latest and amongst the three Briton schoolgirls who fled the UK in 2015, joining the ISIS. Shamima then reportedly fled the enclave and was found recently in the al-Hawl refugee camp. The remarks made by President Trump about releasing ISIS fighters came at the time of an enormous transatlantic squabble going on between the military and politicians about the withdrawal of 2,000 troops from the north-west Syrian region.

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UAE Police Detains UK War Veteran Andy Neal by Falsely Extracting Confession

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The police force in the United Arab Emirates do not care for human rights. They are arbitrary, overbearing and carry the State-licence to arrest and punish individuals without any evidence of wrongdoing.

A British war veteran has been languishing in Dubai Central Prison since October 4 on cooked-up charges of ‘drug dealing’. Andy Neal was picked up from the parking lot of his apartment complex by seven Criminal Investigation Department officers. He had just returned from work. He was then taken up to his apartment where, according to rights group Detained in Dubai, he was punched in the stomach. Neal was staying with his wife and two young children and the beating reportedly took place in front of the family.

The 44-year-old Briton pleaded innocence, but no one was listening. His fate had been sealed. The officers had come to arrest, not enquire and investigate.

At the police station, he was forced to sign a document prepared in Arabic. Later, it was discovered that the forced confession said Neal bought drugs from a man called Ray and sold them to a man called Ahmed. Ahmed, the alleged accuser, is said to have retracted his statement in January. Also, no drugs were found in Neal’s possession and his blood report came negative. But it didn’t matter.

His family is severely traumatized. Neal has lost his business that he built over a period of four years. Most people know about life in a Dubai jail. It’s torturous and inmates have been known to be pushed to the brink, contemplating suicide.
Like it always does, the UAE Government continues to be a silent spectator.

Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, is back in the picture. His office is in touch with the UAE authorities. Hunt was recently seen negotiating with UAE for the release of British academic, Matthew Hedges. He was convicted of spying and given a life prison sentence.

David Haigh, a British Lawyer and campaigner for human rights, was convicted of fraud charges in Dubai and spent 22-months in prison, where he claims he was tortured and raped. According to Haigh, a prison guard told him, “Be careful, British prisoners die here.”

In 2011, British tourist, Lee Bradley Brown, was arrested by the Dubai police and died in prison after six days of custody in a controversial manner. Jamie Harron, Billy Barclay and Ellie Holman are other high-profile cases. There are reports of forced disappearances in the UAE, with many foreign nationals and Emirati citizens abducted by the UAE government and illegally detained and tortured in undisclosed locations. There is an unending list.

Yet, London says it is ‘good friends’ with the UAE. What it means is trade with Abu Dhabi takes precedence over the life and security of its own people.

It is not as if the UAE has any beef with Britain. It could be any other country. In fact, UAE is as brutal and cold-blooded with its own people. Sheikha Latifa II, the daughter of Dubai’s ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, is a classic case in point. She had tried to flee from the clutches of her domineering family, but was caught just as she was about to make final escape.

If a royal member can be subjected to horrors, what chance do others have?

Anyone who goes to the UAE as a visitor must remember that there are no internationally accepted norms of justice in the country. Those who visit the Emirates must do so at their own peril.

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