Archive for Dubai
President Robert Mugabe’s government has moved to set up an embassy in the United Arab Emirates. The embassy, it would seem, will have no major diplomatic task to handle except to oversee the sale of the country’s diamond exports to the rich country, an international hub for diamond trade. Mugabe flew off to Dubai Saturday to land support to the task as well as cut a few deals with the Arabs, as his government battles to revive an economy that could soon start failing to pay its workers. Mugabe, 90, is hard pressed to find a quick solution to the country’s worsening economic situation as companies continue to shut down citing viability problems while offloading thousands onto the country’s jobless market. Ever since diamonds were discovered in Chiadzwa 2006, Zimbabweans are yet to realise the full benefits of their country’s diamond endowment.
The U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi is raising new concerns about the health of a jailed American businessman on hunger strike in the United Arab Emirates. Zack Shahin has been held in Dubai for more than four years on corruption allegations, but has yet to stand trial. He has denied any improprieties and began a hunger strike on May 14 to demand authorities hear his case. Embassy official L. Victor Hurtado said in a statement that “obviously there are serious concerns about Mr. Shahin’s health” after more than six weeks without food. Hurtado is the U.S. Embassy’s Chargé d’Affaires and visited Shahin this week. He urged authorities to release Shahin on bail. UAE officials had no immediate comment.
The British Embassy has met with prisoners in Dubai Central Prison to warn them against hunger strikes. The discussion came after an Irish inmate, Christopher Renehan, reportedly began a hunger strike last Monday to appeal his six-year conviction for issuing bad cheques. And while authorities at the prison said they had no knowledge of the hunger strike becoming a mass action, two prisoners said Renehan had been joined by 40 inmates convicted of similar charges, who were urging reform on cheque-fraud laws. Yesterday, the prison official Brig Omar Al Attar said the rumours of spreading strike action were unfounded and an issue with “a single inmate” had been resolved. British Embassy officials said they had heard about the hunger strike and decided to give an educational talk in the prison about the harm that can be done. Ruzina Hasan, from the British Embassy, said: “We are aware of the situation and consular officials visited them last Thursday to inform them about the implications of conducting a hunger strike.” Renehan’s cellmate, Oliver L from Belgium, said he had joined in the hunger strike. “I have been on strike now for six days with Chris,” Oliver, 51, a hotel supply company manager, said on Sunday. “There are 40 more prisoners now on strike. We have challenges and demands that need to be addressed.” The prisoners are calling for appraisal of the nation’s cheque laws, including enforcement of article 88 of federal law. Article 88 states that if more than one cheque has been issued in the same allegation then they would all be treated as the same case and not separate cases. Inmates say the notion of criminal intent in the bounced cheque law should be revisited. The men say dishonoured cheques issued by companies should not be viewed as crimes, but as civil cases.
The British Embassy in Dubai has put together a series of video clips of long-time expats in Dubai offering advice to newcomers, be they holidaymakers or new expats. According to the embassy, it’s a “new and fresh” way of getting the message out in an attempt to reduce the number of Brits getting into trouble in the UAE. The tips include nuggets of advice such as: Bring a pashmina or jacket because the air-conditioning can be very cold; don’t bounce a cheque or you could end up in jail; and don’t go mad at the Friday brunches or you’ll use up a week’s worth of cash and calories in four hours. Expats are used to life in Dubai when:
– You leave your car engine running while you nip to the shops.
– You can’t speak Arabic, but you can get by in a mix of Tagalog, Hindi and Urdu.
– You’ve forgotten how to put petrol in your own car.
– You take photos when you see clouds, and Tweet about it when it rains.
– You don’t know how to operate your car’s windscreen wipers.
– You don’t think it’s odd that getting your car’s annual registration done requires an entire morning off work and 48 passport photos.
– It seems almost pornographic when you see wine for sale in the supermarket back home.
– You arrive somewhere and wonder why the valet’s not taken your car.
– You think 38˚C is perfectly pleasant weather for a picnic.
Armed robbers held up an Arab diplomat at gunpoint, moments after he withdrew £2MILLION cash from a bank as “spending money” for his wealthy boss. Three masked men ambushed the embassy official as he carried the cash in two suitcases to a waiting chauffeur-driven limo. One put a gun to his head and snarled: “Give me the money or I’ll blow your brains out.” The robbers then fled the scene inLondon’s Knightsbridge in a Vauxhall Insignia. But they were cornered in a nearby square by a car full of gun-toting cops alerted to the drama by their radios. Two suspects gave themselves up as the officers from the Met’s Diplomatic Protection Group forced their motor to pull over. But a third escaped and was still on the run last night. The money was withdrawn from the National Bank of Dubai’s discreet London branch on behalf of a member of an Arab royal family – thought to be one of the oil-rich Al Maktoum rulers of Dubai. Detectives suspect the robbers may have used inside information to stage Friday’s hit. One source said: “This was a huge sum of cash but only a bit of spending money for the man who wanted it collected. “It is protocol that cash is withdrawn in advance for a proposed trip by Arab royalty and someone obviously cottoned on to that.” The source added: “The diplomat was being helped by three bank workers to put the cash in a Mercedes when the suspects struck. “The embassy worker phoned the police and the getaway car was stopped by a diplomatic protection crew 20 minutes later.” Jobless pair Jonathon Hayes, 36, of Horley,Surrey, and Trevor Mair, 45, of New Addington, Croydon, were yesterday remanded in custody by West London Magistrates’ Court on robbery and firearm charges.
The Consulate General of Switzerland in Dubai will be Switzerland’s only visa processing centre in the United Arab Emirates from May 1st. In future the Swiss Consulate General in Dubai will accept visa applications for short and long term visas to Switzerland from all UAE Nationals and Residents. All decisions on processing and issuance of a visa will be solely with the Consulate General. Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates have concluded negotiations for a visa exemption agreement for UAE-diplomatic, service and special passports. Until the pending agreement is signed by both parties, the Embassy in Abu Dhabi will continue to process Schengen visa applications for holders of those passports.
Australia’s spy agencies are investigating the apparently fake passports linked to a Cold War-style hit in Dubai after a police probe failed to yield enough answers, the foreign minister said. Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said he needed “further advice” about the case, in which Israel’s Mossad spy agency stands accused. “I want to make sure that we get this right. I need further work done by our intelligence agencies and I’m going to get this right rather than rush it in any way,” he added. “It’s a very important issue.” Canberra has said all four Australian passport-holders linked to the January killing of Hamas operative Mahmud al-Mabhuh in a luxury Dubai hotel were victims of identity fraud. Passports were also used from four European countries including Britain, which expelled an Israeli diplomat last month. Australia has summoned the Israeli ambassador and warned the countries’ friendly ties were at risk. Smith said both the Australian Secret Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) and the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS) — which probe threats to the country and gather information abroad, respectively — were now investigating.