Edinburgh father Billy Barclay made worldwide headlines in September this year when he was detained for months in Dubai over an alleged fake £20 note. The case was dropped but Billy was held in Ras al Khaimah, away from his family. He spent his family’s life savings on legal and living expenses, before the British NGO Detained In Dubai secured his release via a worldwide media campaign.
With hundreds of major media outlets worldwide reporting on the case, the UAE were compelled to react. UAE emirate Ras Al Khaimah quickly had Billy’s case dropped and promised the suffering Scotsman, in front of the watching world, that they would reimburse the huge amounts of money their mistreatment had cost the Barclay family.
After worldwide media had all reported Ras Al Khaimah’s commitment to set things right with Billy, and the father of two had escaped the clutches of the gulf state’s legal system, the UAE soon forgot their promises.
The money never materialised. After the media attention moved on, Ras Al Khaimah stopped cooperating with Billy, and have been stonewalling his requests for the promised reimbursement.
“It is very disappointing,” Billy tells us. “The UAE is one of the richest countries in the world, this money is nothing to them but it is vital to my family. It is not as though it is to make us rich, it is only to put us back to where we were before their wrongful detention of me cost my family our life savings.
“They behaved very graciously after Radha Stirling and her team focused the world’s media on our situation, but as soon as the spotlight stopped shining on the UAE, they lost all interest in keeping their promises. They have not paid one penny of our promised reimbursement.
“While I was detained in the UAE, my mother died from the results of a stroke. I missed her last days, and the chance to say goodbye. This is about more than money. What the UAE owes me can never be repaid. The least they can do is to honour the promise they so publicly made to repay the financial losses they caused my family but they should be held financially responsible for the trauma I have suffered in addition. They should not get away with continuing to do this to people.”
Axa and Thomas Cook also came under fire from Mr Barclay. “Axa originally told me they didn’t cover a situation like mine, but as a goodwill gesture they promised to cover my flight home and flight changing expenses. They did not do so.
“Also Thomas Cook, who opened a case when all this happened have since refused to to compensate in any way. It is clear that these companies only want to act like they are doing the right thing while the media is paying attention. The moment they can avoid paying out without the media noticing, they revert to type.”
Radha Stirling, the CEO of Detained In Dubai released the following statement: “When Billy Barclay’s case was under the international media spotlight, RAK tourism authority offered Mr Barclay financial reimbursement for expenses he incurred as a result of their negligence. Not only did Billy suffer financially, but during the time he was detained in the UAE, his mother suffered a stroke and he was robbed of his opportunity to share her final moments.
“Jamil Mukadam, the British government worker accused of a rude gesture and released after intense international pressure, also found out that the apparent UAE goodwill was not as straightforward as it seemed. Jamil later found through his government employer that the UAE had secretly placed him on an Interpol’s database.
“Much of the UAE’s abuse of foreigners is over unpaid debt. Malcolm Monroe suffered a stroke, rendering him permanently hospitalised but the UAE has refused to grant permission for him to be transferred home to England, simply because of a financial debt.
“The UAE would help its international image immeasurably if it were to demonstrate humanity and trustworthiness towards the foreign tourists and workers it relies on so much.”