The embassy of the United Arab Emirates, on its official website, refers to the United States as “close friends and strong allies … with shared interests and common values.”
Yet, the Gulf country doesn’t blink twice before arresting American citizens without providing proper evidence.
It has emerged that a 25-year-old American woman, who hasn’t been named, is on trial in the UAE for allegedly “insulting” the state in public.
The details of her case remain murky but The National newspaper reports she told the judge that two men had approached her as she waited for a taxi at the Abu Dhabi International Airport.
“The men tried to help me,” she said. “I had another flight to catch at 1:29 a.m. I refused to engage with them and nothing happened.”
The woman was taken into custody on Feb. 23 and has been under arrest since then. She has requested to pay a fine to get out of jail. Her fate will be decided on May 2.
The UAE is generally considered much more liberal when compared to its regional ally Saudi Arabia. But when it comes to laws governing speech and expression, both are equally strict and unreasonable. Particularly absurd was the case of an American expat who was arrested upon his arrival in the UAE last March for comments he posted on Facebook while he was in the United States.
In 2013, Shezanne Cassim, another American, was jailed in Dubai after posting a video that parodied local teens. He was sentenced to a year in prison and a fine of about $2,700.
Lately, the UAE has been working really hard to get Dubai on the list of the top 10 happiest cities in the world. The Emirati government even launched new ministries for tolerance and happiness in February.
However, considering how the oil-rich country’s draconian laws rob citizens and foreigners of their freedom, perhaps it’s better to invest in a ministry that oversees basic human rights.