Briton’s UAE Death Sentence: Media Frenzy Begins

What’s the Story? The UAE is sailing into a UK media frenzy.
Oh no, not another one. Haven’t we had enough kickings from fly-in British hacks over the last four years? What’s this one about – another boozy Friday brunch gone wrong? A little bit more serious – a 21 year old Briton has been condemned to death in Abu Dhabi.

A lot more serious. What was he convicted of? Selling 20g of cannabis to an undercover police officer.

Drug dealing? Very serious indeed. This is the first I’ve heard of this story, though. Yes, there’s been very little coverage to date and we still don’t know the name of the condemned individual.

A challenge to which the British tabloid media will, no doubt, rise. So what are they likely to focus on apart from the convicted man’s ‘luxury lifestyle’? The severity of the sentence, the relatively small amount of drugs being sold and the failure of the authorities in the UAE to differentiate between what the UK sees as relatively ‘soft’ drugs such as cannabis and hard drugs such as heroin and cocaine.

But we’ve been here many, many times before with ‘Expats in UAE Drug Hell’ headlines bedecking British red tops at least once a year if not more? Indeed, the message is clear – get involved in drugs in the UAE and you’re in very big trouble.

Is the sentence likely to be carried out? The convicted man has 15 days to appeal. Given the media storm that’s about to erupt we would guess the likelihood that the sentence is carried out soon is very slim indeed.

Do you think the authorities have anticipated this storm? It’s possible and to a certain degree they may welcome it.

Why would that be? Because it sends a very strong message to anyone either currently involved or planning to get involved in drugs in the Emirates.

How have the convicted man’s parents reacted? As you would expect, very badly indeed. His mother collapsed outside court immediately after the verdict was announced. She was comforted by the mother of one of his co-accused.

So there were others involved? Yes, a Sudanese co-defendant was jailed for a year for taking cannabis, while a 17-year-old Emirati was ordered to undergo rehabilitation.

Which will likely be another line of attack by the British media? We would expect so – why was ‘Our Boy’ treated so harshly and the others got away relatively lightly.

So we can expect an influx of British tabloid writers over the next few days? They’re probably checking onto their Abu Dhabi flight as we write.