The story of a guy being imprisoned for 4 years because a piece of cannabis less the size of single grain of sugar was found beneath his shoe has gained international attention. And rightly so. Because not only can you get imprisoned for craziness like that, but the UAE also reserves the right to test your blood, and if you’re “carrying” any illegal substances, well, get ready for some grief.
The warning was issued by the charity Fair Trials International, which assists people facing trials abroad, following a spate of arrests of visitors to Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The charity’s chief executive Catherine Wolthuizen said: â€œWe even have reports of the imprisonment of a Swiss man for ‘possessionâ€™ of three poppy seeds on his clothing after he ate a bread roll at Heathrow.â€
Among the Britons arrested recently in Dubai for carrying banned substances is Grooverider, a Radio 1 DJ, who is facing up to four years in prison after Dubai customs officials reportedly found a small amount of cannabis in his record collection. His case has been adjourned until later this month.
In another case, a 43-year-old man from Middlesex was imprisoned earlier this week for four years after Dubai customs officials used highly sensitive screening equipment to detect 0.003g cannabis in the tread of his shoe. Keith Andrew Brown was stopped in transit from Ethiopia to London last September. The amount of the drug found on his shoe would not be visible to the naked eye and weighs less than a single grain of sugar.
Unlike many countries, the UAE will also arrest travellers found with traces of banned substances in their bodily fluids. Ms Wolthuizen said: â€œWhat many travellers may not realise is that they can be deemed to be in possession of such banned substances if they can be detected in their urine or bloodstream, or even in tiny, trace amounts on their person.”
I actually thought Dubai might be kind of a cool place to visit, given all the recent construction and interesting architecture. Now, not so much. Sounds like a George Orwell nightmare.