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  • Radha Stirling

Detained in Dubai is calling on Embassies to warn their citizens of the hidden risks for expats and

"While a number of foreign governments have warned citizens about breaking the laws in Dubai and have even updated them to include the promotion of charities online or other social media violations, one would think that if one follows the advice and avoids breaking the laws, that one's visit would be safe and trouble free.

If visitors review their Embassy's travel advice, they would know that it is unlawful to use rude gestures or be offensive to others and think that if they avoided such behaviour, they would be fine.

What is not clearly explained by the government bureaus is that false allegations are prevalent in the UAE and can lead to lengthy detentions and prosecution. Even if one hasn't broken the law, if another person *accuses* them of breaking the law, they can be prosecuted, even in the absence of evidence. The legal system allows it and prosecutors will proceed on hearsay alone.

A common example of this is where a tourist or expat reports a driver (or appears as though he will) for dangerous or reckless driving. The reckless driver will in return, make false allegations that the tourist or expat made rude gestures or was abusive. This is a common way for the reckless driver to avoid punishment. The tactic forces the expat to drop their allegations or in some cases, is just used to vindicate the driver. Locals will be favored by the police and court system and many expats have ended up prohibited from leaving the country throughout lengthy proceedings. During this time, they can lose ten's of thousands to legal and hotel bills. Some have relied on charities to accommodate them while others have been made homeless.

False allegations are a way of life in the UAE and the legal system allows it, by not placing any realistic burden of proof on complainants.

False allegations are common for small cases, such as driving offences, all the way through to the highest levels of business. Even at the top levels, false allegations have been made for the sheer purpose of appropriating funds or property from expats. If for example, a local sponsor makes criminal allegations against their foreign partner, the foreigner is almost powerless to achieve justice in the UAE. This is partially due to corruption, partially due to the favouritism towards local residents and partially due to the haphazard state of the judicial system. Judges, police and prosecutors are largely untrained and inexperienced and tend to wish to favour those who seem to have the most power and authority in a case. The rules of evidence are outdated and not up to par with "older' countries. A Prosecutor's opinion is taken with greater weight than it should be.