Fewer Brits arrested in the UAE, but deaths rise
Foreign office says deaths of Britons in Gulf state up by a third, but drug offences down
FCO figures showed 75 Britons had died, 41 had been hospitalized and one raped during the 12-month period
The number of Britons arrested in the UAE fell by nearly a fifth last year, aided by a decline in arrests for drug offences, the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office said Thursday.
The Gulf state arrested 217 British tourists and expatriates between April 1, 2010 and March 31, 2010, down from 265 arrests in the same period a year earlier.
Drug offences slumped to just four, compared to 24 in the same period a year earlier, the FCO said in its report British Behaviour Abroad.
“We work hard to warn British nationals about the consequences of breaking the law abroad so it is really encouraging to see the number of cases of arrests and drug arrests falling,” foreign office minister David Lidington said in a statement.
However, the report tracked a rise in deaths and hospital visits among Britons in the Gulf state. FCO figures showed 75 Britons had died, 41 had been hospitalized and one raped during the 12-month period. By comparison, there were 56 British deaths, 31 hospitalisations and one rape in the year-earlier period.
Dubai has received high-profile coverage in the British press in recent years, following a spate of arrests relating to crimes such as culturally inappropriate behaviour. Partly to blame may be a poor understanding of local laws, such as the consumption of alcohol without a licence.
The British Embassy said in 2009 that Brits were more likely to be arrested in the UAE than anywhere else in the world.
One of the most high-profile incidents was that of Lee Bradley Brown, a 39-year-old tourist who died in police custody in April after being arrested on charges of assaulting a Nepalese housekeeper at the Burj Al Arab hotel.
Thursday’s report showed the highest number of arrests took place in Spain, the most popular holiday and migration destination for Britons. But proportionately, people were most likely to be arrested in Thailand, followed by the United States.
As many as one million British nationals visit the UAE every year, according to the FCO website, with as many as 100,000 Britons living in the country.
The site warns British nationals about a “high threat of terrorism” in the UAE and urges visitors to the Gulf state to maintain a high level of security awareness and to respect local customs.
Visitors are also warned of the risk of having their drink spiking in date rape attacks that are “rare but do happen”, according to the FCO.
“Consular staff have received credible reports of drink spiking in night clubs in Dubai, resulting in sexual assaults on both men and women,” the website says.
A poll of British holidaymakers in March placed Dubai alongside Mexico, South Africa and Jamaica as countries they felt most at risk in.