24 March, 2008

Bad publicity for Brand Dubai

The jailing of Cat Le Huy for six weeks, before he was released when the case of drug possession was dropped, is still getting international media exposure.

Today The Times of London runs the story: "Endemol exec sent to Dubai jail after police find 'speck of dirt'

"Officials at Dubai airport claimed they had found 0.03 grams of hashish in the Endemol television executive’s bag...They accused him of possession — which would have led to a mandatory four-year prison sentence had he been convicted. After he spent six weeks in Dubai’s jails protesting his innocence, prosecutors dropped the case this month.

Mr Le Huy, 31, a German citizen living in London, claims that Dubai officials are paid a “bounty” for arresting drug offenders, a practice confirmed independently to The Times by sources who did not wish to be named.

'People shouldn’t go to Dubai until the laws change,' Mr Le Huy said. “They are running a risk. Even if you’re innocent and know about the laws, if they suspect you of anything, you run the risk of incarceration.'

His experience is common, according to Fair Trials International, a legal charity, which says that drug-related arrests have increased rapidly since 2006, when the laws changed in Dubai so that trace amounts of banned substances picked up by airport detection equipment were deemed to indicate possession.'


Dubai's laws, their implementation and the differences in sentence handed down for various offences are coming under more and more international scrutiny, and criticism. I won't talk about the human side of injustice, just the commercial implications. It's not helping us to get the 15 million tourists, and more, a year that so much of the economy's future is based on. The vast majority of people caught up in it and readers comments left with newspapers and websites say 'don't go to Dubai'.

Our new Justice Minister really needs to have a look at this with some urgency.

The full critical story is here.

38 comments:

the real nick said...

Actually, this is exactly what is needed - a moratorium on people going to Dubai: Articles like these should give us a bit of respite by slowing down development...

This could be a new vision perhaps?

Smith said...

This could be a new vision perhaps?

Then they should start targeting wealthy executives for trace amounts of blow, just imagine how many people they could lock up because of suspicious white powder.

"Talc on your crotch" sure it is, that's straight up Columbian buddy . . . 4 years for you

"ate a powder donut at the airport" I've heard that one before . . . 4 years for you

4 out of every 5 US bills has trace amounts on it, so it wouldn't be too difficult to dragnet anyone with us money, do a simple test, then use the results to screen who to blood test.

Hell why stop there, soft drugs are legal in The Netherlands, and it isn't just tourists who smoke, so why not target any one who resides in The Netherlands? maybe expand it to all the bordering countries seeing how the borders are open?

These seem like great natural population growth controls, harassing people is a fantastic way to keep people from coming to a country.

Keefieboy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Dont want to get jailed, dont take drugs, its as simple.

On another note, the Times of London should be banned from Dubai and/or sued for trying to paint Dubai in a bad light

samuraisam said...

"Dont want to get jailed, dont take drugs, its as simple."

Yo dipshit:
"Le-Huy's urine sample also tested negative for any drug use."

Keefieboy said...

Anonymous: speaking of 'simple'...There is no evidence that Le Huy took drugs. He was jailed because they found something smaller than a grain of sugar on his shoe. There's another case of a man who had three poppy seeds from a bread roll stuck to his jacket.

Dubai, not The Times, is painting itself in a very bad light with these cases. I lived there quite happily for twelve years, but after these cases I would really think twice about going back. The point being that the minute quantities of illegal substances can be picked up just about anywhere without your knowledge, but there is absolutely no common sense being shown by Customs/Public Prosecution/Courts.

You might say you have nothing to fear if you don't do drugs, but these cases prove the opposite. If I had to spend even half a day in detention (never mind six weeks) for a non-crime, I would be furious. It is a gross offence against human rights, and the UAE needs to get its act together immediately if it hopes to stand a chance of fulfilling its tourism and investment dreams for the future.

DUBAI JAZZ said...

I am not a legal expert, but I am not sure that you can define poppy seeds stuck to a jacket or a grain stuck to the back of a shoe as 'possession'…

But generally, I do agree with what anonymous said : "don't do the crime if you can't do the time"

Keefieboy said...

Dubai Jazz: like our friend anonymous, you've missed the point. These guys did not do the crime, but they are doing the time. That is what is so shameful about these episodes.

samuraisam said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Proud Emirati said...

Well Keefieboy, you cannot prove that can you? All what we got is news from western media looking for publicity so I'll believe what the authority say any day.

Unless u believe that the government have an agenda about it? I mean there is no point whatsoever that a country like the UAE would want a bad publicity especially regarding cases like drugs. There is no point arresting them for no reason.

Keefieboy said...

All what we got is news from western media looking for publicity so I'll believe what the authority say any day.


What do 'the authority' say? All anybody knows is what has been reported in the press - English local and international. If there's an alternative point of view then we need to know about it.

I think there is a fundamental disconnect between the aims and objectives of the government (who obviously don't want shit like this happening) and the Police/Prosecution/Courts who are earning their bonuses by prosecuting such ludicrous cases.

If you think that the Police/Prosecution/Courts are 'the authority', and you think they are infallible, then there is no hope for the UAE. Maybe I misread or misunderstood what you were saying.

Proud Emirati said...

I didn't mean the Police in particular as an authority. I work for Dubai Police (no am not a believer) and I never heard about bonuses for arresting drug dealers. I mean they do sometimes give policemen bonuses when they solve some cases but it isn't something systematics and it certainly doesn't do with drugs.

Now my point is that arresting a guy for having (quoting from Dubai jazz) "poppy seeds stuck to a jacket or a grain stuck to the back of a shoe" doesn't make sense to me. So I do believe that there is something missing in this story to start with.

Proud Emirati said...

If you think that the Police/Prosecution/Courts are 'the authority', and you think they are infallible, then there is no hope for the UAE. Maybe I misread or misunderstood what you were saying.
I still don't understand this attitude of most of the posters here who jump into conclusions? Especially the ones are prejudice about things about the Arabic Islamic culture in general.

Oh well, at least u made the effort and said that u might misinterpreted what I said, other don't even bother.

rosh said...

"so I'll believe what the authority say any day."

PE: surely, you must think, prosecutors dropped the case, given lack of legit evidence? His Urine, tested Negative.

Perhaps you are right, perhaps Dallas Austin and Naomi Campbell's party animals were "let go" given probability of "bad" publicity -yup, that makes sense.

rosh said...

"Especially the ones are prejudice about things about the Arabic Islamic culture in general."

This has almost nothing to do with Arab or Islamic culture, because people who do drugs exist in every culture in every religion. This is about a law which need redefining.

You(as in you PE)could be arrested and thrown into a dungeon, should you have a SPECK of white powder on your shoes or clothes. Nobody's going to care if you are an Arab, Emi or as pious as they come, till after the fact.

Proud Emirati said...

rosh, I still don't know why do I need to repeat myself. I was referring to this particular issue.

Anyone who posses drugs should be arrested but not for having "poppy seeds under the back of their shoes". This is the thing that I don't believe the government would do and risk its reputation on. So I don't believe the story in the first place.

Now Dallas Austin was convicted and pardoned by the ruler of Dubai, no relation at all with what I said. In fact I don't think that Dallas Austin should've been released.

Keefieboy said...

Proud Emirati. So, we need to know. I mean, the world needs to know if there was more to these cases than what was stated. Because - referring to the title of this post - 'Brand Dubai' will be dead in the water very soon. It possibly is already. The whole thing is based on consumer trust and confidence. If the travelling public does not feel it is safe to travel to Dubai without the risk of unjustified incarceration (and I am now one those people) then the whole thing has been killed at birth.

Here's what needs to happen (IMHO). Scrap the prescription drugs thing - you cannot expect people to carry prescriptions with them (even if they do, the cops can't read the doctor's writing, whatever language it's in).
Less than a gram of anything is OK.
Poppy seeds - you can get them on a bagel at Spinneys: you can bring in a bun full of poppy seeds.
Prior consumption: apparently they can detect if you've consumed illegal drugs in the six weeks before you came to tarnish the UAE's shore. So what? As long as you don't get off the plane stoned, why should the UAE worry?

Sort this out, make it very public that you have done so, and people might think about coming back to the UAE.

By the way, I do not for one nanosecond condone the use of illegal drugs (I stick to alcohol and tobacco), and I generally think the UAE has it right: but when you get down to prosecuting possession of unusable quantities of illegal drugs, possession of relatively harmless prescription drugs (many of which can be got over-the-counter in other countries) and the stupid minimum four years in jail, you do the victims and the country a great injustice. More than anywhere else in the world right now, Dubai needs to be tourist-friendly, and what's been happening recently is very much the opposite.

Proud Emirati said...

Rosh I think am arguing with a wall. Do you even read what I write? My references to prejudice wasn't even about drugs. It was a general remark after Keefieboy thinking that I believe that Police are infallible, which is a naive assumption if u ask me.

Keefieboy said...

PE: I was asking a question, that's all. You still haven't explained 'the authority'.

Proud Emirati said...

I guess we completely agree then Keefieboy.

I believe that Dubai should stop marketing itself as a liberal place (am not referring to drugs) when it clearly isn't.

Keefieboy said...

PE: let the flood waters come over the Palms then, 'cos nobody'll buy into it (except money-launderers).

Proud Emirati said...

Nah, ill just buy couple of them when they become cheaper :P

rosh said...

"Rosh I think am arguing with a wall."

Perhaps true, 'cause am not "arguing". In any case, think we cross connected there 'cause I didn't get to read, your comments @ 00:25 & 00:33 AND now, that I have we seem on the same page, 'cause I agree with whatever you just said. So there, am done.

Masalama Masalama :)

Anonymous said...

Good thing Singapore doesn't have this Human Rights BS when it comes to drugs.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/6300989
.stm
http://www.accessmylibrary.com/coms2/
summary_0286-7718328_ITM

They really know how to keep their city clean from trashy people :)

DUBAI JAZZ said...

Keefieboy, I didn't miss the point. I just wanted to tease Sam with a rhetorical statement!

Anonymous said...

"On another note, the Times of London should be banned from Dubai"

It is the FREE press that keeps those in power working for the good of the people they serve. Rather than just for the good of themselves and their own pockets.

It will be interesting to see how the new Abu Dhabi-based "Free Speech" paper does.

the real nick said...

This whole Brand Dubai thing is overrated hogwash.
The fact Dubai is booming is not because of the 10% of the population who are Western, and not because of European tourists - many of whom are the kind who don't read newspapers anyway - but because it is and probably will be for many years to come, the most liberal and comfortable place to be in the entire Arab world, Pakistan, Iran, and still holds cachet for lots of Indians who can't wait until their country get its act together.

What you reckon - Saudis stop coming to Dubai for their monthly jiggyjiggy with Elena because Mr.Cat Le Huy was wrongfully arrested? Mr. Ali Hodjastinian stops laundering his black money because Grooverider is sulking in jail? And Standard Chartered pulling out of a 1bn people market because of some 100 labourers sitting in sewage? Get a break!

Dubai can't fail except perhaps in the perception of a few Guardianistas, which overall is of negligible importance.

Seabee said...

Not hogwash nor negligible importance nick.

Vast amounts of money have been and are being spent on promoting Dubai in target countries. That's brand building and the brand is Dubai.

One of the big objectives is tourism with a target of 15 million by 2010. Critical target areas are Europe and North America. About a third of Dubai's tourists are from those areas and they're big spenders, which makes them even more important.

"a few Guardianistas" is way off beam - negative publicity urging people not to visit Dubai is all over the internet and in plenty of mainstream publications.

Keefieboy said...

Well said Seabee. I was gonna maybe respond to Real nick, but I've been a bit busy and I think he was just doing his Devil's Advocate thang...¡jejeje!

the real nick said...

seabee,

Today's news, tomorrow's fish wrap. Most tourists will be happy to put their conscience on the back shelf if a complimentary cocktail is being thrown in the package offer.
Trust me, we build hotels, I know GMs. I know what kind of people come to Dubai: predominantly business travellers and sun-hungry yobs.

I propose a wager: If one year from now tourist arrival figures have gone down from today I'm ready to acknowledge that I was wrong and that it is due to wrongful arrests and violations of basic human rights.

rosh said...

"negative publicity urging people not to visit Dubai is all over the internet..."

This is very true. At times I find myself constantly explaining these articles to folks at work and social circle, 'cause most people have quite legit concerns and questions. For instance my boss at work, over lunch - casually brought up the risk of people jailed for "speck" of drugs and general risks and rights involved. I sat there, sheepishly smiling with nothing much to say.

DUBAI JAZZ said...

Nick….ya Nick, there are quite a few cities in the middle east that are more liberal and cheaper to live in than Dubai. What make Dubai unique still is the business opportunities; the main reason why we are all here. Tourists contribute to the making of these opportunities whether we like that or not. And the image is important for tourism. I am not for changing the strict judicial and legal system, because let's be honest; it is one of the most powerful guarantors for safety and security in this town where foreigners make 80% of the population. But a steady and reasonable reform wouldn't hurt…

My two cents…

Seabee said...

"Trust me, we build hotels, I know GMs."

I trump you Nick, having worked for many years in hotel marketing.

the real nick said...

Seabee,

Great, then you will find it easy to dig out the figures of tourist arrivals for 2007/2008 - IF you accept my challenge, that is.

Again, save for an Al Qaeda attack I believe there's nothing that will damage 'Brand Dubai' for several years to come, as far as tourism is concerned.

Seabee said...

A challenge Nick? If there's a challenge you've missed my point - which is that negative publicity always has an adverse effect on a brand. And that our authorities need to get on top of the causes of the negative publicity that we're receiving.

Until recently Dubai had nothing but glowing, positive publicity. That's changing rapidly and we're getting an increasing amount of negative publicity on a widening range of subjects.

It probably started with reports linking the 9/11 terrorists with Dubai, which lead to money-laundering accusations, then the whole labour issue with stories about indentured slaves, strikes & riots, appalling labour-camp accommodation, then the Alexandre Robert rape case, then all the drugs stuff with Codeine Tracy, Cat Le Huy and many others which are increasingly calling for a boycott of Dubai.

Negative publicity can have nothing but a negative, detrimental effect on a brand.

the real nick said...

Seabee,

Negative publicity can have nothing but a negative, detrimental effect on a brand.

This is firstly not always true - "can have" as you say yourself -, and without facts to back it up it is simply an opinion.

The challenge I extended to you is simply to back up your claim that this recent negative publicity will indeed have a detrimental effect on tourism. I say no.

Seabee said...

Sorry Nick, but years of experience in marketing have proved to me time and time again that negative publicity always has a detrimental, negative effect on the brand.

But apart from experience, simple common sense also tells the same thing - how can negative publicity have anything other than a negative effect? It can't have no effect and as it's negative it can't have a positive effect.

the real nick said...

Seabee,

In these particular cases there is one underlying message which will 'stick', and that is not the wrongful arrests but that Dubai does not tolerate drugs - and this resonates actually well with people, especially in Europe where there is a growing resistance to loutish behaviour and celebrity yobs getting away with it.

Of course it could happen to anybody and nobody should be subjected to wrongful arrests and abuse, not even some C-List moron- but in the end who gives a shit about a DJ or some TV executive with a funny name?
I could spin that in favour of Dubai any day: " We are NOT Ibiza / Goa" - and believe me, to a lot of people this sells.

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