Thursday, July 25, 2024

Dubai’s strict rules exposed by vloggers as flight attendant faces legal battle

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Two travel vloggers have issued a stark warning about potential unknown offences that could result in hefty fines, or even jail time in Dubai.

Stefano and Nathalie from Sense the Lens, who resided in the UAE for more than five years, revealed last year the shocking penalties one could face for activities that are considered normal in the UK.

It comes after reports that 28-year-old flight attendant Tori Towey, from Co Roscommon in Ireland, was facing imprisonment in Dubai. Ms Towey was charged with attempted suicide and alcohol abuse after being attacked, Irish parliamentarians were told.

Activists claim that despite wanting to leave after receiving hospital treatment for her injuries, she was barred from doing so. The Dail chamber also heard that Dubai authorities had imposed a travel ban on her.

Detained in Dubai warned that she could face a long prison sentence in a facility known for “human rights abuses and torture”, highlighting the legal dangers Brits could encounter when relocating to Dubai.

However, Irish premier Simon Harris has now announced that the travel ban imposed by Dubai authorities has been lifted.

He stated: “I’ve just been informed that the travel ban has been lifted, that the embassy will take Tori to the airport as soon as she is ready to go, and that the embassy of course will continue to follow up on the case, which is still active as of now,” reports the Mirror.

Mr Harris revealed that after the recent update, he had a conversation with Ms Towey and her mother Caroline, confirming she “will soon be home”.

Stefano and Nathalie have admitted their ignorance of some local laws while living it up in Dubai, with the former confessing: “So we got to know things that were normal for us but that could actually have gotten us in jail.”

Here’s a list of seven surprising activities that are illegal in Dubai, as highlighted by Sense the Lens:

1. Driving a dirty car in public areas can land you a fine of up to 500 dirhams.

Stefano explained that the rationale behind this rule is that Dubai’s officials believe a “dirty car will give a bad image of Dubai” and grime can obstruct police vehicle identification.

2. Washing your own car in public spaces could see you fined up to 500 dirhams.

Ironically, despite the law against having a filthy car, cleaning your vehicle in public is also punishable because it’s thought to “make the streets dirty” and “give a bad image of Dubai”, says the travel influencer.

3. Spreading rumours or fake news is a serious offence, carrying penalties of one year in jail and fines up to 100,000 dirhams.

Gulf News states that this law targets “anyone who uses the internet to publish, circulate or spread false news, rumours or misleading information, contrary to the news published by official sources”.

4. Possession of poppy seeds can result in up to 20 years behind bars.

Poppy seeds, which Stefano notes are treated as drugs in Dubai, along with posta or khas khas, are strictly prohibited throughout the UAE, according to the Economic Times.

5. Swearing or bad gestures – fine of up to 500,000 dirhams.

The GOV website says swearing and rude gestures are considered obscene acts and are illegal in the UAE, potentially leading to prison and deportation.

6. Checking other people’s phones – fine of between 50,000 and 100,000 dirhams.

According to Gulf News, the fine could apply if someone accessed the information using a password “obtained without permission”.

7. Fundraising without a licence – imprisonment and a fine of between 200,000 and 500,000 dirhams.

In this particularly strict rule, anyone who runs a website or publishes information online or “through any information technology” to promote the collection of donations without a licence could face legal consequences.

The Department of Foreign Affairs said it was, along with Ireland’s embassy in the UAE, providing “ongoing consular assistance” in Ms Towey’s case.

“The Irish ambassador to the UAE is in regular contact with our citizen (including this morning). The embassy is also engaging with all the relevant authorities in UAE on the case,” the department told the PA news agency.

“Officials will continue to provide advice and consular assistance.”

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