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British Embassy Use Shock Tactics to Help Brits Avoid Arrests in the UAE


UAE : 16 February 2011

British nationals getting an education on the laws and social policies in the UAE.

The British Embassy is resorting to shock tactics in an effort to educate the British people in the laws and social rules in place throughout the UAE.

These tactics are being tried by both British Embassies operating with the UAE in response to the large number of British nationals being arrested and detained in the Emirates, both those visiting and those residing there.

In a report entitled “British Behaviour Abroad” the FCO (or Foreign and Commonwealth Office) stated that the British are most likely to run into trouble with the law in Thailand and then in the UAE. This area is also where the third highest number of arrests relating to drugs are taking place.

It is more probable that British nationals will be arrested in the UAE, rather than anywhere else in the world except Thailand, according to the British Consul General, Guy Warrington. Warrington spoke at a recent inaugural event at the Embassy aimed at spreading awareness.

This probability is not based on bad British behaviour, Warrington noted, considering that the community of Britons are “very well behaved.” Warrington added that FCO research found that most of the arrests that take place overseas could be avoided.

As an example, a recent case involved a couple who were arrested and sentenced to one month in jail for consuming alcohol and kissing in public (on the lips). That couple will be deported after serving their sentence.

A team from the consular is visiting British schools in an effort to educate the students about the various rules, laws and regulations in place across the UAE. The team is working together with the police force in the Emirates.

Vice Consul Mandy Smith of the Assistance team in the British Embassy in Dubai spoke recently to British nationals, discussing a case (not in Dubai) involving a British Muslim 16 year old boy.

Smith explained that the boy was offered alcohol which he then took. After being arrested the boy was detained and sentenced to lashings. The London bureau became involved, as well as consular officers, attempting to get the right people to assist the British boy in his case.

She confirmed that he was indeed given the lashings due to the fact that the British consul is not authorized to interfere with the legal proceedings in another nation, just as the British system would not allow other nations to interfere with the UK laws.

Currently Smith has talked to around 4,000 citizens of the UK regarding laws in the UAE. She spends an entire day at one school, talking to the students in the daytime and moving on to work with the parents that evening.

Speaking plainly, Smith states that using drugs will land you in jail. She also informs her youthful audience about a person known as the Milkman.

In the UAE a man who sells alcohol to underage drinkers, which is illegal, is dubbed the Milkman.

In other areas of the talk Smith addresses the dress code in the UAE, as well as sexual interactions and marriage. She covers buying and consuming alcohol as well as banking regulations such as bounced cheques.

Smith commented that there are Brits currently serving 42 year jail sentences after bouncing a cheque.

Estimates figure that there are 100,000 British living within the UAE and around 20,000 of those are residing in Abu Dhabi. There are 1 million traveling through the UAE in the course of a year.

Guidelines For British Nationals

A booklet recently released by the British Embassy is entitled “UAE Advice for British Nationals.” It covers the advice of the FCO with regards to laws, traditions and social regulations in place throughout the UAE. This includes the dress code and respectful actions towards the religion of the area, as well as action the British Embassy can and cannot take on behalf of Britons.

Lisa Aire, a 32-year-old mother who was attending a recent briefing at the Embassy commented to the media that being reminded of what is permissible and what is not can be helpful, even for those who have been living the Dubai for some time.

Aire also noted that she is not surprised upon hearing that British residents or those on holiday have been arrested or detained in the UAE for offences involving sex or alcohol. She noted that the laws are not new and have been established for some time.

With wisdom she commented to Gulf News that what is seen as typically normal behaviour in Western nations could become a nightmare when the UAE laws are broken or abused.

Paul Holdsworth, Staff Writer, Gulf Jobs Market News
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