top of page


Radha Stirling Founder Detained in Dubai
Radha Stirling News Detained in Dubai
Radha Stirling CEO


Founder and CEO

Radha Stirling is a leading human rights advocate, crisis manager and policy consultant, focusing on the UAE and the wider Middle East. She is the founder and CEO of British based organisation Detained in Dubai and its subsidiaries, (which have helped thousands of victims of injustice over the past fifteen years).


In 2010, she expanded her work to include countries throughout the Gulf region dealing with both civil and criminal cases.  She has provided expert witness testimony in several high profile extradition and arbitration cases, while lobbying for Interpol reform.  


Given her breadth of experience in financial disputes, Ms Stirling also provides expert risk assessment for investors and advice on business strategies in the Gulf.  She has actively negotiated on behalf of corporate clients and investors, assisted in recovering stolen assets, and intervened to secure their freedom from unlawful detention.  


Ms Stirling frequently appears in international media to discuss human rights and legal issues in the Middle East.  She recently addressed the United Nations and works closely with Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.  Ms Stirling has provided policy advice to both the Australian and British governments, and is a frequently invited speaker on foreign policy issues related to the Gulf states and broader region.

Her high-profile media campaigns and legal work have influenced the release of countless high profile prisoners in the UAE, notably Cat Le Huy, David Oliver, Richard Lau, Ellie Holman, Matt Joyce and Marcus Lee, Safi Qurashi, Scott Richards, Conrad Clitheroe, Gary Cooper, Farzan Athari, Billy Barclay, Jamie Harron, Laleh Shahravesh and André Gauthier.  Ms Stirling publishes regular articles and reports, often covering human rights issues, political prisoners, Middle Eastern finance and debt laws, social media laws, cybercrime laws and Interpol red notice abuse.


Radha has worked extensively at parliament level and closely with Senators and MP’s. Her work at Australian Parliament ensured provisions to safeguard citizens against human rights violations were included in their extradition treaty with the UAE.  Stirling acted for HRH Sheikha Latifa Bin Rashid Al Maktoum which lead to a United Nations investigation into her disappearance from a US yacht in international waters.

​Stirling delivered a speech at a Frontiers of Freedom conference in November 2018, focussing largely on the increased influence of Saudi Arabia and the UAE into American politics and media, questioning

whether these US “allies” are acting in the best interests of the States.  Stirling presented a speech discussing the risks of investing in the UAE and wider gulf region at the April 2019 Offshore Alert Conference in Miami, then visited Washington DC in May to discuss the pressing issue of Interpol Abuse with policy advisors.

Since founding Detained in Dubai in 2008, she has held various senior roles in law firms in the Middle East and was most recently described by Daily Beast as running "an extraordinarily slick - and convincing - PR campaign ostensibly designed to free her [Princess Latifa]".

We work with a network of experienced specialists both in the UAE and abroad.  We have alliances with law firms and advocates internationally, including most of the Middle East, Asia, Europe, Australia and the United States.  We work alongside and instruct leading experts in their fields, as well as working with the world's leading human rights groups and policy think tanks. Please contact us for more information.

John Nicholas Testimonial for Radha Stirling  - Interpol Red Notice Removal from Qatar

John Nicholas Testimonial for Radha Stirling - Interpol Red Notice Removal from Qatar

John Nicholas was wrongfully listed on Qatar's Interpol Red Notice database by Qatar National Bank for a small bank loan which Mr Nicholas had almost entirely discharged by the time he left Qatar. QNB added atrocious charges to try to escalate the claiming amount beyond Interpol's minimum 15,000 Euro threshold for a Red Notice. Mr Nicholas was the victim of Interpol Abuse and is joining Stirling's other clients in a class action against Interpol. Related Press Release from July 3, 2021 here: Over the past three years, Qatar has significantly increased its use of Interpol’s database, leading to the temporary arrests of a number of foreign nationals in countries like Britain, Greece and Turkey. “It’s absurd that Qatar has been permitted by Interpol to use their database as a means to collect bank and credit card debts from foreign nationals”, said expert witness Radha Stirling, CEO of IPEX (Interpol and Extradition) Reform (Interpol and Extradition) Reform. Banks have pressured Qatari law enforcement to report even small debtors to Interpol, with a view to having them detained abroad and pressured to discharge credit cards and loans. This is clearly against INTERPOL’s charter and is a violation of their membership agreement but, as usual, Interpol would rather accept the donations from Middle Eastern countries and remain silent, than to punish them for abusing Interpol’s power and reputation. - An Emirati’s potential appointment as Interpol head draws criticism “These people are not being arrested because EU countries respect Qatar. They are being arrested because Qatar is routing their request through a reputable organisation, but that organisation is losing respect fast. “Conor Howard was recently arrested in Greece over an herb grinder. It was a joke and he was finally released after a worldwide campaign. Alan Stevenson was arrested in Czech where local authorities called it “an abuse of his rights”. British national, Steve Williams, was detained in Mallorca over a Qatar bank debt that had been trebled. - Stevenson detention ‘an abuse of his rights’ “We are pleased that we have today received word that a British national’s name has been deleted from Interpol’s database, but it should never have been there in the first place. It was another frivolous notice issued by a bank, portraying that the victim was some kind of seasoned criminal. Interpol allowed themselves a significant amount of time to review his case before finally removing it but there is no apology, no punishment for Qatar and no compensation for the victim. “The pattern of abuse and the history of corruption within Interpol should be sufficient for the elimination of their sovereign immunity. They are not acting on behalf of governments. They are acting on behalf of their financial donors, banks and influential private corporations and individuals. They have no right to claim diplomatic immunity”. “Interpol is complicit in numerous and serious human rights abuses and will soon be held to account. Interpol has become a pay to play organisation, open to manipulation and abuse by countries with poor human rights records. Countries like the UAE, Saudi, Qatar, Bahrain, Iran, Turkey, Russia, Egypt and China have been able to use the crime tool for their own personal vendettas. Countries like the Emirates have used Interpol’s reach to extend their jurisdiction beyond their borders, causing the arrest, detention and prosecution abroad of many innocent victims. Innocent individuals have been listed on Interpol, arrested, detained and tried for “crimes” that don’t even meet Interpol’s minimum reporting criteria. Journalists, activists, businessmen and credit card debtors have been locked up in Western nations at the mere request of countries who repeatedly take advantage of their membership with Interpol.” - Radha Stirling
Robert Urwin Testimonial - Detained in Ukraine over UAE Interpol Red notice

Robert Urwin Testimonial - Detained in Ukraine over UAE Interpol Red notice

A British man stranded in Ukraine for a year over a bounced cheque he did not write has returned home. Robert Urwin, 68, from South Shields, was detained over claims he wrote the cheque for more than £30,000 in Dubai 13 years ago. He was cleared and released in Ukraine in December 2018 but was unable to travel home because of an Interpol red notice that remained in place. The Foreign Office said he arrived back in the UK on Saturday. Mr Urwin was accused of writing the cheque on his personal account while in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). It was paid into a branch of HSBC in Dubai in 2006, a year after he left the UAE, when it bounced. Campaign group Detained in Dubai said the bank asked Interpol to issue a red notice, which notifies member countries that a person is wanted. Mr Urwin was detained in Ukraine and faced extradition proceedings before being cleared. He successfully argued he was the victim of identity fraud but was unable to travel home because the red notice had not been removed from Interpol's database, Detained in Dubai said. Radha Stirling, CEO of Detained in Dubai, said: "We appealed successfully to Interpol for the removal of the abusive red notice, and we received files from Ukrainian officials indicating that local police had no complaint against Robert in their database, yet he had still not been cleared to exit the country." She said it took more than 40 days since Interpol to delete the red notice, adding that the UK government "stepped-up" to help. HSBC and Interpol have been approached for comment.
André Gauthier Testimonial - Canadian whistleblower scapegoated in Dubai Gold AE fraud

André Gauthier Testimonial - Canadian whistleblower scapegoated in Dubai Gold AE fraud

"I'm Andre and I've been detained in Dubai for five years and a half for something I haven't done. If it were not for Radha, her team, my son and my friends, and the Canadian government, I probably would still be there today. Radha, her team and my sons have been the one who started everything, the process, to make sure that I will be able to come back home, safe and in good health. Exactly one year ago, they succeeded to get me out of jail and approximately 11 months later, they were able to repatriate me back to Canada. Since the time they have started their work, approximately two years ago, they have been working intensively in coordination with the Canadian government to make sure to bring me back safely. Again, thanks very much Radha and the entire team." André Gauthier is finally reunited with his family after years-long ordeal that left him scapegoated by members of Gold AE. “It seemed as though Gauthier’s nightmare would never end when he first contacted us”, said Radha Stirling, CEO of Detained in Dubai who represents the Gauthiers. Stirling interviewed André on her Gulf in Justice Podcast over the weekend. “There were dozens of cases against him, some of which could not be appealed anymore. André had tried everything he could to resolve the cases legally, spending hundreds of thousand on lawyers, when he contacted us after a failed attempt to flee via the Omani border. “It was certainly a complicated case. It involved Ponzi schemes, money laundering and royals. The investors in Gold AE who were defrauded, were wrongfully told to take cases against André. This would provide enough distraction for the scamsters to leave the country. They ended up setting up new and similar scams in Canada, which we reported to authorities. “Once we reviewed the substantial evidence of André’s innocence, we released a video appeal from Andre himself to end his arbitrary detention and brought the case to the media. This injustice needed to be heard. The Canadian media was outraged by the legal abuse. With significant interest, Andre’s son, Alexis, recruited Richard Martel, MP who raised André’s case in Parliament on several occasions, and to the attention of Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau who commented on the case. Martel is the Conservative deputy for Chicoutimi Fjord who worked relentlessly on André’s case, thanks to André’s brother for soliciting his help. Martel worked closely with the Canadian former foreign affairs minister, Francois Phillipe Champagne and his successor, Marc Garneau. A non-partisan effort was undertaken for the common goal to bring a Canadian citizen home, with former foreign minister Chrystia Freeland taking the initial steps. “Detained in Dubai works with foreign governments on a regular basis. We advised the Minister on how they could help André home, working tirelessly with them to support the process. It’s a whole different system in the UAE and most personnel have limited experience in the region. Our expertise is welcomed by diplomats. “The fact of the matter is that André was instrumental in exposing the Gold AE scandal, and accepted the task of trying to recover the stolen funds for investors, but ended up being a scapegoat. It was absolutely outrageous, and we are grateful for the Canadian government’s responsiveness to our calls for intervention and for welcoming our input. While it was frustrating for everyone involved that the resolution took so long, the UAE finally acknowledged André’s innocence, and ultimately that is all that matters. We'd like to thank the Francois-Phillippe Champagne, Canada's former minster of foreign affairs and his counterpart in the UAE, HH Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan. We look forward to future cooperations that ultimately will make the Emirates a safer place for investors in the future. “Detained in Dubai and the Gauthier family would like to thank the members of the Canadian government whose support was instrumental in freeing André. Without diplomatic support, André would likely have died in prison. Canada has set an impressive example of how foreign governments can overcome significant adversity in the Middle East. Other countries should take note. With such a precedent setting diplomatic rescue, it will be difficult for another other foreign government to claim they ‘can’t get involved’. “André and his family are extremely brave and very patient. His son Alexis, never gave up hope. He spent every single day lobbying politicians, diplomats, lawyers, and dealing with the media. The whole family deserves a holiday. André is in good spirits, isolating, and looking forward to a family reunion. I had the pleasure of speaking with him on the Gulf in Justice Podcast over the weekend, and look forward to meeting him in person. “André Gauthier has made significant financial losses as a result of his wrongful detention and we will fully explore all avenues of retribution.”
Conor Howard Testimonial - Scot arrested in Greece over Qatar Interpol Red Notice for herb grinder

Conor Howard Testimonial - Scot arrested in Greece over Qatar Interpol Red Notice for herb grinder

"Hi, my name is Conor Howard. Last year I found myself in a bit of trouble with the Qatari authorities. Radha and her team luckily stepped in and managed to highlight the issue and got me free. I can never thank her enough for what she's done for me and my parents as well. She really helped out. Thank you." More: Cannabis Grinder Scot jailed in Corfu celebrates New Year as drug charges dropped by Middle East prosecutors. A Scot who faced a year behind bars in the Middle East after being caught with a cannabis grinder has celebrated Christmas at home after prosecutors dropped drug charges. Conor Howard, from East Lothian, was locked up in Corfu after he flew out to visit his mum and stepdad in August. The 27-year-old, known as Milky to pals, was arrested on an Interpol notice after Qatar authorities said they found drugs on him when he passed through the Middle Eastern state last October on the way back from a work trip to Australia. He was released and thought his ordeal was over until being arrested in Greece months later where he spent weeks in a cell. The Scot is now celebrating after Middle Eastern prosecutors dropped drug charges following a campaign backed by influential lawyer Radha Stirling and Kenny MacAskill MSP. Following a court hearing on the Greek island at the start of November, Conor was told he was 'free to go'. He hopes to put his hellish experience 'in the past' after he returned home to Scotland to ring in the new year with his girlfriend. Speaking of his ordeal Conor said: "There were times in the cell in Greece that I thought I might never get back home again. "I had no idea what was happening to me day to day so I'm obviously very happy to be home and seeing people and getting back to normal. "When we had finished the hearing I got an email from Kenny MacAskill's office saying it all the charges in Qatar had been dropped. "I've been trying to get in touch with the British embassy and Qatar just to be double sure that this doesn't happen again. "But I'm happy this is the end of it and I can leave it in the past. " During his weeks in jail Connor said he made unlikely allies with his two cell mates- who spoke nearly no English. He added: "I was in a quarantine cell for 17 days with two other guys. "They didn't really speak English and they were from Albania. "But we got close and spoke just through writing and drawing pictures on a notepad. "When you're stuck in a room together you have to make friends." Stepdad Robert said Christmas came early for the family who managed to get on the last direct flight back to the UK in time for the festive period. He said: "Everything is now clear, we are all back home and it is fantastic. "We got back from the court hearing and were told that it had all been dropped by Interpol and the Qataris. "We managed to get the last direct flight back to the UK from Corfu. "It was a great early Christmas present." Conor's picture has now been removed from the Interpol website. He spent the holidays at his home in Tranent while Robert and mum Adele enjoyed the festivities in Prestonpans. Robert added that Conor had now been given back his old job in train repairs. He said: "I think he is now just looking to the future and looking to put the whole thing in the past. "It was a hellish experience for the family. "But now he is looking forward and trying to forget it. "He is looking at buying a house with his girlfriend and has his job back. "We are all just settling back into it I think." Radha Stirling said the upcoming World Cup in the country forced prosecutors to drop charges in what would have been a 'potential PR nightmare for the state'. She said: "Qatar would not have wished for Conor to be arrested again in another country. "Such an arrest would have raised too much media alarm against the country that’s been under a lot of media scrutiny this year. “I am very happy we were able to bring Conor home and privileged to have helped him and his lovely family.” During the legal battle over Conor, pals and family dug deep to support the Scot raising thousands for the family. Robert added: "We have been over-the-moon with the support we have received. "We are all now looking forward."
Herve Jaubert Testimonial - kidnapped by UAE from US flagged yacht with Princess Latifa

Herve Jaubert Testimonial - kidnapped by UAE from US flagged yacht with Princess Latifa

"I'm Herve Jaubert, Captain of the yacht Nostromo. On March 4, 2018, we were attacked in a savage military style operation, led by Indian and UAE armed forces in international waters. Princess Latifa, and all of us onboard were abducted at gunpoint and Radha Stirling helped saved our lives. She raised the alert and reported our disappearance to the authorities and to the media. Thank you" More: Following the disappearance of Sheikha Latifa Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum and Jean Pierre Hervé Jaubert, in what can only be described as the most concerning of circumstances, Detained in Dubai (as per the wishes of the parties before their disappearance), has instructed an immediate complaint with the UN Special Procedures Branch, specifically the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Inhumane and Degrading Treatment and the UN Office of the High Commission for Human Rights requesting their urgent and immediate intervention. Sheikha Latifa made an SOS call to Radha Stirling, CEO of Detained in Dubai, reporting gunshots while onboard a US registered yacht off the coast of India. It is believed she and her companions were kidnapped in what amounts to a serious breach of international laws. A video made by Sheikha Latifa outlines additional potential crimes, allegedly perpetrated by those whom she was fleeing. Ms Stirling issued a statement “On Sunday the 4th of March 2018, I received a harrowing call from Sheikha Latifa, reporting men outside and gunshots. She was in a panicked state and pleading for help 'Radha, please help me, please help me. There are men outside. I heard gunshots'. Sheikha Latifa disclosed to me her claims in respect of human rights violations, including unlawful imprisonment, torture and abuse. Contact was terminated suddenly and permanently with Hervé and Latifa. Despite enquiries, the whereabouts and status of the parties remains undisclosed. It is rumoured that she, at least, has been abducted and returned to the UAE against her will. Before the incident, I was in contact with both parties, who instructed me to assist them, especially in the event of their disappearance and that is what I am doing. We owe a duty of care to both parties to act, particularly when they are no longer able to act for themselves. Sheikha Latifa disclosed to me her claims in respect of human rights violations, including unlawful imprisonment, torture and abuse, perpetrated against her and her elder sister, as well as other serious crimes against others whom she identified; carried out under the authority of her father.
Jamie Harron Testimonial - arrested for brushing past man's hip in Dubai bar

Jamie Harron Testimonial - arrested for brushing past man's hip in Dubai bar

"I'm Jamie. A few year's back, I fell foul to the laws of Dubai. I was facing some serious charges there that don't make any sense to westerner's at all. I would just really like to thank Radha Stirling and Detained in Dubai for taking my story to the media after spending four months stuck there on bail, nearly losing my house and everything, for taking it to the media and exposing the story for how silly it was. I just can't thank them enough. Thank you very much, most appreciated. Story: Public indecency case against Briton dropped by Dubai government. A Scottish man who was prosecuted in Dubai for touching a man’s hip has been freed a day after being sentenced to three months in jail, his supporters have said. Jamie Harron, 27, was told on Monday morning that the case against him had been dropped by special order of the United Arab Emirates prime minister and ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, according to the campaign group Detained in Dubai. Harron was initially arrested for public indecency for touching a man’s hip as he carried a drink through a crowded bar in Dubai on 15 July. The electrician, from Stirling, claimed he was simply trying to avoid spilling his drink when he brushed past the man at the Rock Bottom bar. The Detained in Dubai advocacy group, which has been supporting Harron, said on Monday he had been handed back his passport at a police station and told he was free to leave. The government of Dubai has not responded to the Guardian’s request for confirmation. On Sunday Harron was sentenced to three months in prison for the public indecency charge and told he faced further court proceedings for drinking alcohol and allegedly swearing at the businessman he touched. Radha Stirling, the chief executive of Detained in Dubai, said Harron was “understandably nervous” when he was called in by the police on Monday morning. When he arrived at the police station, she said, his passport was returned and he was told he was free to go. “The charges were dropped, the sentence annulled, and he faces no order for deportation. This came by direct order from Sheikh Mohammed.” Stirling added: “We wish to express our deepest gratitude to Sheikh Mohammed for his personal intervention in this case, and for exonerating Jamie at long last. It has now been established that the allegations against Jamie were entirely unwarranted, defamatory and meritless, to such an extent that the ruler of the country found it necessary to step in and correct the wrongful action of the public prosecutor and to quash the judgment of the court. “This was a courageous and honourable decision on the part of Sheikh Mohammed, and while it highlights the urgent need for judicial reform in the country, it is also a hopeful sign that the UAE’s leadership possesses the will and vision to pursue such reforms in the future.” Stirling said on Sunday that Harron had “suffered tremendously” as a result of the allegations, had lost his job, faced losing his home and was struggling to pay his legal bills. He was detained in prison for five days after his arrest, she said, and his family has been unable to visit him without facing imprisonment themselves. Groups that campaign for reforms in the Emirate state welcomed the move but called for Sheikh Mohammed to overhaul the country’s judicial system. About 1.5 million Britons visit the UAE every year, according to the British government, with Dubai an increasingly popular destination for holidaymakers. But the government warns travellers from that UAE laws and customs are very different to those in the UK and that there may be serious penalties for doing something that might not be illegal in the UK. All sex outside marriage is illegal, for example, and public displays of affection are frowned upon and can result in arrests. Alcohol is served in licensed hotels and clubs but it is a punishable offence to drink, or be under the influence of alcohol, in public. The International Campaign for Freedom in the UAE said: “Since the Arab spring of 2011, repression has been rapidly stepped up by the UAE authorities, which has seen both Emiratis and non-Emiratis arbitrarily detained, forcefully disappeared, and in many cases tortured on the most frivolous of charges. “It is imperative that Jamie’s case be understood within this wider climate of repression inside the UAE and that the British government do more to inform its citizens about the real risks and dangers of travelling to the country.”
David Oliver Testimonial - American lecturer held as Dubai debt hostage suffered stroke in prison

David Oliver Testimonial - American lecturer held as Dubai debt hostage suffered stroke in prison

The late David Oliver's sister Beverly Thornton. "David was arrested off the plane in Dubai due to a debt. He spent three months in jail with horrible conditions and thirteen months homeless in the streets of Sharjah. It's not until I contacted Radha Stirling from Detained in Dubai who advocated so strongly for David that within two weeks, David was released. I'm ever so grateful. So is his family, the rest of his family and David was so grateful to Radha. As he called you his 'rock star' and bless you, and thank you". Story: An American academic has been 'held hostage' in the Middle Eastern city state of Dubai over an unpaid debt for more than a year and suffered a stroke while behind bars, his family revealed Tuesday. David Oliver, 62, from Cincinnati, Ohio, was stripped of his passport and thrown in a prison cell by airport guards who allegedly bragged: 'Look, we got an American.' The creative writing lecturer had been living in Dubai with his ex-wife, working at the American University in the emirate. But after 20 years in the region he was locked up when he lost his job and failed to repay a $70,000 debt. The country criminalizes debt and banks and landlords can send someone to jail with a document showing a check bounced. Oliver's nightmare stemmed from a $70,000 debt he incurred when living in Dubai with his then wife. adha Stirling, CEO of the British-based NGO Detained In Dubai who is representing Oliver, called for the UAE to reform its financial laws. She said Oliver has 'zero chance' of repaying his loan, adding: 'He took the loan in good faith, but his circumstances changed beyond his control. 'If the UAE had operational bankruptcy laws, David would likely be home already. 'While there has been a lot of discussion over the past few years about implementing modern bankruptcy regulations, movement so far has been ineffective. Stirling continued: 'We are dealing with a number of people who are looking at spending the remainder of their lives in prison. 'Even the people currently outside of prison are not allowed to work and when whatever money they had runs out, they are forced to beg for food or rely on charity. 'Holding a debtor hostage in the hope they have a wealthy relative to bail them out is both immoral and unfair.' She added: 'When I spoke to David, he had clearly been emotionally damaged by the time in prison and the separation from his family. 'He could not see any way out but holds hope that he will be reunited with his family again soon.' 'Unfortunately we have many similar cases in the UAE with people who can neither pay their debts nor leave Dubai to seek employment elsewhere.'
radha stirling business leader inspiring.jpeg

The man’s voice was shaking on the telephone, “I’ve just been held at the airport, they say it is on an Interpol Red Notice from the UAE, I haven’t even lived there since 2008!”  The woman on the other end of the line replied assuringly, in a tone equally professional and compassionate; even as she scrolled through dozens of emails on her laptop; each with a nightmarish story, an emergency, or a desperate plea for help.

So begins a typical morning for the founder and CEO of Detained in Dubai, Radha Stirling.

For over a dozen years, foreign nationals embroiled in legal dramas with the United Arab Emirates have found comfort in her calming, authoritative voice. She promises them solutions, and delivers.


Stirling has been involved in some of the UAE’s highest profile cases, including bringing media attention to the escape and capture of Princess Latifa, the daughter of the Ruler of Dubai. But, she says, most of her work is done out of the spotlight. “At least 60-70% of our cases involve financial and business disputes between Emiratis and foreign citizens who have been cheated, extorted, or wrongfully prosecuted for fraud, when local partners exploit UAE laws and a biased justice system to their advantage,” she explains.

The depth and breadth of her experience has made Radha Stirling the go-to legal and human rights expert on the UAE and broader Gulf region for major news outlets, such as the BBC, CNN, Sky News, and print media. She is a regular speaker and consultant with policy think tanks like the Heritage Foundation, and her work requires almost constant liaising with government officials around the world. “I remember the appalling case of Canadian Andre Gauthier, who had been wrongfully accused and charged with a massive scam in the UAE which he himself had actually exposed. The real scamster tried to scapegoat Andre, and he spent over a year in prison. But we consulted with the Canadian government day and night, advising their diplomatic strategy for securing Andre’s release until finally the UAE dropped the charges on all counts and let him go home.”

Last year, Stirling expanded her work with the founding of Due Process International, which allows her to accept cases outside the Gulf, addressing legal failings throughout the Middle East, Asia, and beyond.


“Foreign nationals often do not know what they are getting into when they go abroad,” she explains, “This is particularly true for investors and business people. They typically examine a very narrow set of criteria before deciding to set up stakes in another country – the ease of investing, the procedures for obtaining visas, rules on ownership – but they seldom review the overall human rights situation, the impartiality of the judiciary, and the actual experiences of other foreigners who have landed in legal trouble there. Just as with tourists, business people can easily find themselves under arrest in the UAE, and many other countries where the legal system has not kept pace with business development; even if they have scrupulously followed the law.”


Calls like the panicked one she received in the morning, come in all day long. “The Gulf countries, the UAE and Qatar particularly, are habitual abusers of the Interpol system, having Red Notices issued as a form of harassment and even blackmail to force foreign investors and business people to pay off fabricated debts and exorbitant settlements,” Stirling cautions, “Our organisation has a 100% success rate in getting these abusive Notices removed. Being listed on Interpol is disastrous for anyone, being treated like a fugitive when you have done nothing wrong, but it can be especially devastating for a business owner with an international clientele or supply chain.”

Not only has Stirling been successful in the removal of her clients’ wrongful Red Notices, she has become the leading advocate for reform of the entire Interpol system, advising policy officials and legal activists on how the international policing organisation can improve.


“After years of supplying expert testimony in UAE extradition cases in the UK, detailing the corrupt, frequently brutal criminal justice system; the High Court of England finally has taken the position that Britain will not extradite people to the Emirates, due to human rights concerns. Nevertheless, people will still get detained and questioned in the UK over an Interpol Red Notice requested by the UAE,” Radha says, “In 2019, an Australian footballer, Hakeem Al Araibi, who is a refugee from Bahrain was arrested in Thailand over a Red Notice from Bahrain – the country he fled for political persecution. After considerable campaigning and communication with authorities, he was released; but it never should have happened. It is against Interpol’s own rules; but Interpol does not screen Red Notice requests before listing people. It can take months for Interpol to grant removal requests over Notices that never should have been issued. Even when a country routinely requests wrongful listings, Interpol does not revoke or suspend their right to request Red Notices. There need to be measures inside the organisation to check abuse of the system. Otherwise, countries like the UAE will continue to use Interpol as an instrument to expand their own de facto jurisdiction overseas”


That kind of overreach is something Radha Stirling has cautioned against for years. In one of her most talked-about cases, British national Laleh Shahravesh was arrested in the UAE over a Facebook post she wrote while in England. “The UAE’s Cybercrime laws are so vague and broad that literally anyone, anywhere, who says something online, can be charged in Dubai with a cybercrime if someone in the Emirates doesn’t like what they said. If they have never been to the UAE, it doesn’t matter. They could potentially be tried in absentia, and even reported to Interpol – all without knowing any of this has happened, just like Laleh.”

"She is able to do what ambassadors, foreign secretaries, and diplomats cannot" - Outlook Initiative


After more than 13 years and over 15,000 clients, dealing with every imaginable type of case – from being jailed in Dubai over a selfie at the wrong time and place, to business disputes worth hundreds of millions of pounds, from foreign nationals forced to sign false confessions to family members being detained over a relative’s bounced cheque; there is no other organisation with the expertise or track record of Detained in Dubai, and no one with the experience, insight, and skill of Radha Stirling in dealing with seemingly hopeless cases.


More than once, a wrongfully accused foreign national has been released from UAE custody just because a tweet or news article mentioned that Detained in Dubai had taken the case; Dubai’s Ruler has even intervened to overrule court decisions on behalf of Stirling’s clients. If someone is facing legal problems in the UAE, the Gulf, or indeed, with the creation of Due Process International, in any foreign jurisdiction anywhere, they should have Radha Stirling on speed-dial.


She is able to do what ambassadors, foreign secretaries, and diplomats cannot; and when you hear her calm voice promising you over the phone --as the police are pulling you aside -- that everything is going to be OK; you can be certain that it will be. There are thousands of people who have been in the same predicament who can attest to that.

  • Full article, page 17, available here


Radha Stirling Showreel

Conscious Entrepreneurship: Interview with Radha Stirling

Radha Stirling started her own consultancy company at 19 years old, after relocating to London from Australia. This lead her to the digital media and broadcast industry until one of her Endemol colleagues was detained in Dubai on trumped up charges while on holidays. Radha rose to the challenge to help her friend, leading the campaign that fought against a corrupt Middle Eastern system. The case gained widespread attention in the international media which lead to his release. Following his safe return to London, many more victims of injustice sought Radha’s help. It was then, in 2008, that she founded Detained in Dubai, an organisation set up to help foreign nationals facing challenging situations abroad and over thirteen years, the organisation has helped more than fifteen thousand people.

CONSCIOUS ENTREPRENEURSHIP — What meaning do you give this term?

Conscious entrepreneurship is about awareness, enjoyment and the embracement, consideration and application of personal integrity and principles that not only make the entrepreneur happier and more fulfilled, but benefit the staff and foundation of a business, as well as clients and customers and the wider policies that govern the future of the world in all areas…. environmentally, politically and socially.

CAREER — What led you to your particular career path?

With a passion for justice, a background in law and media, it seemed almost inevitable that somehow I would end up in a career involving both. What’s more surprising is that it was by absolute chance, and not by my own architecture. It is though, my enthusiasm and confidence that made it possible for me to develop an organisation capable of influencing political policy, legislative reform, Interpol reform and the release of unfairly detained prisoners abroad. That is not by chance.

MENTORS — We all need a little help along the journey. Who has been an invaluable mentor for you? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?

It is important to surround yourself with positive influences, inspiration and know how. There are so many outstanding success stories and each one of them has something invaluable to share or perhaps, just to remind us to keep this positivity in the forefront of our mind. Along with some great legal minds and historical figures, I have taken inspiration from some of the most prominent business minds of the modern day, as well as people like Tony Robbins. I consistently listen to podcasts or reads from positive and inspirational people.

TO THRIVE — When you see yourself thriving: Do you see yourself opening up opportunities for others along the way to participate in your success, and how?

I have opened up opportunities to train interns and staff from the ground up, giving them new career opportunities, experience and a great future. I advise and work with third party human rights organisations to help them increase their effectiveness. I educate policy advisors and industry professionals, leading to long lasting and widespread attitudinal shifts within the sector. As my work continues to expand, more and more opportunities are opened to people who enjoy hard, passionate and fulfilling work that has life impacting results for thousands of people.

THE FUTURE — How do you see the face of entrepreneurship in 5 years? How do companies /brands need to adapt to secure their place in the future?

Companies are going to have to be able to navigate their way through the digital age and back to personal interaction, to be able to maintain customer loyalty. With lockdown induced increased dependence on technology, companies run the danger of forgetting the innate and biological need for true human interaction. Companies who can thrive with technological offerings while remembering that human nature is permanent will have an edge.

ADVICE — What kind of advice would you like to give to an aspiring entrepreneur who feels limited due to their background or lack of resources?

Entrepreneurs who feel they need “something” before they can start their business will always be wanting and always be lacking. They need to disregard negative, blocking advice, even if it is their own mind playing the old “devil’s advocate” with them. It doesn’t have to be perfect to start, and certainly not everything needs to be in place. Stop aiming for perfectionism. Did Facebook look exactly how it does today? No. Did Amazon? No. If they had waited until all the pieces were in place to start, there would be no Amazon, no Google, no Facebook.


Reach out to Radha Stirling on LinkedIn.

Originally printed here.

Daily Mail tells us about Radha Stirling

When Radha Stirling first heard that a colleague called Cat Le-Huy had been arrested by immigration officials in Dubai, she assumed it was all a big mistake.

Her chum, a London-based producer with whom she worked at the TV production company Endemol, had been initially detained because an unidentified bottle of pills was found in his suitcase.

After they turned out to be melatonin, a perfectly legal jetlag medication, customs staff announced with a flourish that they had also discovered cannabis among some dust in the depths of the holidaymaker's bag.

The quantity of this illegal narcotic was, they claimed, exactly 0.03 grams. That's an amount smaller than a single grain of salt and virtually invisible to the human eye.

Cat, who hails from Belsize Park, North London, was promptly slapped in handcuffs and transported to the Al Wathba prison, 40 miles north of the airport.

Radha, who is 42, knew that her chum did not take recreational drugs so, initially, thought he would be promptly released. But she was wrong. Instead, she was told to her horror that he faced a four-year prison sentence for 'drug possession'.

It was 2008 and, in the weeks that followed, she helped organise a noisy campaign on Cat's behalf, turning him into an international cause célèbre.

Finally, after the best part of a month in custody, he was released without charge and allowed to return home. Case closed. For Cat Le-Huy, at least. But for Radha, it was just the beginning.

As the dust settled, she was contacted by several other Westerners who claimed to be victims of grave miscarriages of justice in the exotic tourist hotspot.

'People were basically saying, 'I saw how you helped him, can you help me, too?' she says.

'I suddenly realised that, behind the facade of this glamorous country, which touts its credentials as a popular destination with beaches and luxury hotels, there were huge problems with the rule of law and human rights, affecting vast numbers of innocent people.' She duly founded Detained In Dubai, a pressure group that lobbies on behalf of victims of the Emirate state's hardline laws.

So far, her organisation has helped an incredible 15,000 people — an average of roughly three per day — navigate a draconian legal system that, despite Dubai's reputation as a glittering millionaires' playground with golden sands, turquoise seas and towering modern skyscrapers is, in fact, built on a hardline interpretation of medieval Sharia law.

'We have dealt with cases in which rape victims were prosecuted for unlawful sex, foreigners jailed over social media posts, people convicted on the basis of torture and forced confessions, and victims of gross police and prosecutorial misconduct of a variety that staggers the imagination,' she says. 'All involve laws that people don't imagine could possibly exist in the modern era.'

Among the victims Radha has personally helped is Princess Latifa al-Maktoum, the 35-year-old daughter of Dubai's autocratic ruler Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum, who attempted to flee the country in a yacht in 2018.

The princess is under armed guard, recently smuggling out remarkable videos telling how she had been seized by commandos while in international waters, before being transported back to Dubai, where she has been held hostage ever since.

'I spoke to Princess Latifa when she was on the boat and shots were going off,' says Radha. 'It was extremely harrowing. When even a member of the royal family is denied basic human rights, you can imagine how the country treats normal people who aren't even its citizens.'

These and other high-profile cases shine a light on the dark underbelly of a destination whose status as a celebrity hotspot is deeply at odds with its legal system, under which everything from drinking alcohol to holding hands in public and sharing a bedroom with someone who is not your spouse is officially unlawful, and consensual gay sex can earn you a prison sentence of ten years.

Take, for example, online celebrity 'influencers', many of whom have spent lockdown posting pictures of themselves visiting Dubai's gaudy attractions, where they are often staying for free as part of a commercial deal negotiated with publicists who have turned the Middle Eastern resort into a winter sun destination to rival the Caribbean.

Little do they know that, while they tout the virtues of this supposedly 'modern' mega city, they, and almost any other visitor, are at constant risk of prosecution under draconian cyber-crime laws.

Should they or any other foreigner fall foul of a policeman, minor royal, business leader or powerful local, the country's authorities can (and often do) trawl through historic social media posts in search of something that offends their sensibilities.

'These rules can, in theory, criminalise almost every Western visitor,' says Radha. 'If you're responsible for a Facebook post from five years ago they don't like, and if they want to go for you, then you are toast.'

Take, for example, 55-year-old Briton Laleh Shahravesh, who was arrested in Dubai in 2019 following a complaint from a local that she had used the social network to brand her ex-husband's new partner 'horse-face'. She was arrested on arrival in the country and only allowed back to the UK several weeks later, after agreeing to pay a £625 fine for making the supposedly 'defamatory' claim.

Or take Scott Richards, a 42-year-old father of two, who was detained in 2016 after the police took exception to a Facebook post in which he had shared a link to a crowd-funding campaign to supply blankets for Afghan refugees.

He spent three weeks behind bars because of a bizarre law that bans soliciting donations for non-profits that have not been approved by the government's totalitarian-sounding 'Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities' department.

At present, Detained In Dubai is also representing a 31-year-old HR manager from Gloucestershire arrested at the airport in January as she tried to return home after three years living in the country.

Her alleged 'crime' is having told her ex-flatmate, a Ukrainian, to 'f*** off' in a WhatsApp message, during a row over the use of the dining table at their home during lockdown. This is also, apparently, defamatory.

This woman, who has not been named, has learned — along with so many of the hundreds of Britons who are arrested in the United Arab Emirates each year — that modern living fits uncomfortably in a country where rules governing social interaction (particularly among women) are centuries behind those in the West.

Partly, this is an accident of history. A hundred years ago, Dubai was a sleepy fishing town where little had changed since the Middle Ages. But, in 1966, oil was discovered, creating vast wealth for its ruling family, the Maktoums, and residents, who today make up around 20 per cent of its population. During the 1990s, with an eye on the day when oil would run out, Sheikh Maktoum decided to reinvent his tiny fiefdom as a financial centre, trade hub and tourist hotspot, investing huge resources in throwing up skyscrapers and mega resorts that, in the course of a generation, have turned it into the Middle East's version of Las Vegas.

At one point, in the early 2000s, a third of the world's cranes were estimated to be in use in Dubai's various building sites.

For the ruling class, it would prove an inspired move. However, for the hundreds of thousands of Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Sri Lankan migrants who worked at the sharp end of its construction industry for wages of a few dollars per day (no minimum wage), it was anything but.

According to Human Rights Watch, many of the three million low-paid workers employed under the 'kafala' sponsorship system in the UAE are now 'subjected to abuses that amount to forced labour' in temperatures that can reach 45c (113f).

The organisation says that 'more often than not', their passports are detained as soon as they start work and remain with the employer for almost the entirety of their contract.

Even relatively well-heeled white-collar workers from Britain and other Western countries can end up finding that Dubai's forward-thinking reputation is a veneer.

Authoritarian local laws meant that anything from allowing a cheque to bounce to failing (even accidentally) to pay a credit card bill on time can lead to a punitive spell in jail. Public displays of affection with a girlfriend, or even spouse, can lead to arrest.

Businessmen whose companies fail, leaving behind debts, often have their passports confiscated, leaving them in a Kafka-esque position — unable to leave the country until creditors are satisfied, but unable to work because their visa has been revoked.

Exactly this state of affairs faces Robin Berlyn, a 50-year-old former Grenadier Guardsman, who fell foul of the authorities in 2013 after a business collapsed and he found himself trapped in Dubai unable to pay various disputed debts.

In October last year, he managed to flee by swimming two miles across the Persian Gulf to neighbouring Oman, using a rucksack as a flotation aid, only to be arrested by local police and driven back to the UAE (rather than being deported to the UK, as he had hoped). His case remains ongoing.

Tourists can also be caught in the trap. In November, two Canterbury University students on a 21st birthday celebration were stranded in Dubai for almost three months after a dispute with a car-hire company. They were told to expect 18 months in prison if they failed to pay £16,000 over alleged damage to a Range Rover but, after an international outcry, they got a £250 fine, instead.


In 2017, plasterer Billy Barclay spent a month in limbo after being arrested after one of the £20 notes he handed into a bureau de change turned out to be forged.

As with many a Middle Eastern autocracy, it is women's rights that are most commonly abused.

A 2005 law states that 'a husband's rights over his wife' include the wife's 'courteous obedience to him', and places conditions on a married woman's right to work or leave the house.

These rules are routinely used by estranged husbands to exert control over their spouses, even when both parties are Western expats.

Radha says: 'We had one client, a German woman in the process of separating from her husband, who had decided to get a job. Her husband rang up the company and said, 'I didn't give her permission' and they had to fire her.' 

In Dubai, extra-marital sex is punishable by one year or more in prison. On the basis of this law, Amnesty says, a Swedish-run hospital in Ajman Emirate was forced to report pregnant, unmarried women to the police.

Three years ago, a 29-year-old South African resident of Dubai called Emlyn Culverwell took his fiancée, Iryna Nohal, a Ukrainian, to a doctor, complaining of stomach pain.

He promptly diagnosed that she was pregnant. But rather than offering treatment, the doctor called the police. The couple were arrested and jailed when they could not produce a marriage licence.

Eventually, they were released, apparently at the behest of Sheikh Maktoum. For years, he has often intervened when ugly legal cases threaten his country's international reputation. But since the PR disaster that today threatens his glittering emirate involves his own treatment of Princess Latifa, it may not be so easy to fix.

Full Article Here

bottom of page