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  • Detained in Dubai

Emirati jockey who promised to drop charges against American mother & horse bite victim, lodges

Anoud Al Suwaidi (left) takes additional charges against Nichole Coffel (right)

US mother of 3 Nichole Coffel, from Missouri, who was charged with Cybercrime in the UAE when she texted her Emirati employer to ask for months of unpaid wages, was convicted this week in an Abu Dhabi court and given a one month suspended sentence, probation & an AED 1000 fine.

Her employer, Anoud Al Suwaidi, a local celebrity female jockey, had refused to pay Nichole’s wages and to compensate her for medical expenses incurred when she was bitten by Al Suwaidi’s horse. After months of promises that she would be paid, Nichole texted Al Suwaidi, telling her that it was “haram” to withhold her salary; an Arabic word meaning “forbidden”. Al Suwaidi filed a police complaint against Nichole, claiming that she had insulted her by calling her “harami”, a colloquialism that roughly translates as “bastard”. Because the communication had been via WhatsApp, the complaint fell under the broad definition of the UAE’s Cybercrime laws.

“Even though screenshots of the exchange were presented to the police, clearly showing what Nichole said, they chose to believe what Ms. Al Suwaidi told them instead of the material evidence,” explains Radha Stirling, CEO of Detained in Dubai, who represented Coffel. “Nichole suffered a severe injury, considerable medical expenses, and months without wages, yet the police refused to even allow her to file a complaint herself against Ms. Al Suwaidi. This is absolutely consistent with what we have observed over more than a decade working with expat cases in the UAE; the legal system is overtly biased in favour of locals, and against foreigners, particularly women. Nichole was victimised and exploited by her employer, and when she sought justice, she was victimised by the court.”

“Nichole and her family were upstanding members of the community in Abu Dhabi, contributing to charities and founding social projects that made the emirate a better place. They had every intention to