On Saturday 26th January my good friend Cat Le-Huy flew into Dubai. A few hours later he found himself being strip searched in a Dubai prison for no good reason. This article is to serve as a warning to all who would travel to the UAE and to question whether your trip is really worth four years of your life.
I mentioned this briefly in a comment on another seed about a British man who has been jailed because they found 0.03 grams of hash stuck to the bottom of his shoe. The original article for that seed can be found here and brief details of Cat's situation can be found towards the end: Briton Jailed for Four Years in Dubai
Cat was going to Dubai to see an old friend. He knew when he left that he would be targeted by immigration due to Dubai's racial profiling and there ultra conservative attitude (he is a German citizen of Korean origin who has long hair). He even knew of their ban on codeine and took pains not to take any prescription medicine that was illegal in the UAE. However when he was stopped at immigration and searched they found melatonin pills on him. Melatonin is available over the counter without prescription in the US, UK and the UAE!! However they arrested him pending test results on the tablets. He was strip searched, forced to provide a urine test (it is illegal to have banned substances in your bloodstream in the UAE) and thrown in jail. Whilst searching his bags they also found dirt in his back pack which they claimed to be hash. Anyone found guilty of smuggling hash in Dubai, no matter how small the quantity, is sentenced to four years in prison.
After three days in prison the test results on the melatonin turned out to be just that and the urine test came back clear. then the police asked for a seven day extension to his detainment so they could test the dirt. Throughout all of this Cat's friends and associates have ben lied to repeatedly about what is happening. The police in Dubai do not have to tell the truth. One minute they were saying he will be out when the test came through negative the next they are saying they are going ahead and pressing charges even though all tests so far have come back negative.
When it happened the friend Cat was visiting in Dubai started trying to help. His friend was fairly well connected with various members of Dubai society and through his contacts made appeals to both his contacts and their contacts; a Sheik from the ruling family, the German Ambassador, The Chief of Police, Narcotics Officers, etc. He even got Arabic speakers on the phone to try and push the point. But in Dubai the moment Drug smuggling is mentioned, everyone turns cold as they cannot be seen to associate with it and no-one will fight your corner.
Cat is lucky. He is in good spirits in prison and is surrounded by many other souls caught in the same trap who do not have the money, associates or connections fighting for them on the outside. Yes, part of the reason for my article is to give him support and anyone who wishes to help can sign the online petition here:
However there is also a wider issue here. Many of Cat's friends and family have embarked on a mission to educate Westerners about the dangers of traveling to the UAE. Cat is not alone, there are many other stories like this:
They have had some progress so far. They have got the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing in Dubai to put a warning on their website to foreign travelers. Beyond this they are launching their own website to warn travelers of the dangers.
In the meantime though Cat is left in limbo. The police in Dubai literally make the rules up as they go along and if the rumours about the bonuses they receive for catching drug smugglers are true it is no wonder they do so.
More info about Cat's situation can be found here: