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  • Detained in Dubai

Locked down and locked out; Scotsman homeless and stranded in Dubai

After a series of hardships, British national Malcolm David Faren finds himself penniless and on the street in UAE, with no visa and no passport and no way to go home

Jasmin and father, Malcolm, hopeful for his return to Scotland.

Malcolm David Faren’s family only knows he’s alive when he is able to get access to free Wi-Fi. The 63-year-old father of four from Dundee, Scotland has been homeless off and on since 2016, and is currently sheltering in an abandoned building somewhere in Dubai. “Dad is living on the streets while the whole country is locking down over Covid-19” Says Malcolm’s daughter, law graduate Jasmin, “He is not allowed to be outside, but he has no place to go, and he is banned from coming home to the UK. It is an unbearable situation.”

Malcolm and his family had lived in the Gulf region since 1995, spending most of that time in Dubai. Malcolm held management positions with Kodak, Agfa and Konica over the years, and his wife Lisa worked for Qatar Airways. They put their kids through international schools and had no problems for 25 years. But, when Lisa’s job transferred to Qatar in 2011, and Malcolm stayed behind in Dubai – the place he’d called home for so long – a downward spiral began.

He lost his job and had difficulty securing a new one. A previous landlord tried to cash a security cheque for a full year’s rent after the family had already vacated the premises, and new tenants moved in. Needless to say, the cheque bounced. Soon, Malcolm was struggling financially, living with friends, and facing police complaints over the bounced cheque and other debts. Whenever Malcolm was able to find work, he paid what he could while eking out a subsistence, but eventually he was arrested over the financial cases and went to prison.

When Malcolm was released at the beginning of 2019, after serving several months, he thought the ordeal was over; but that is not how these cases work in the UAE. The cases were all converted to civil charges and, despite having completed his jail sentence, Malcolm was now subjected to new court judgments requiring him to pay his accusers over AED 100,000. His passport had been confiscated upon his initial arrest and never returned, his visa had expired, and he was placed under a travel ban until the money is paid – even though he is barred from working and has no means to earn a salary.