UAE (Dubai) just made the list of places I would never want to be near:
British tourist Keith Brown was sentenced to four years in prison after Dubai customs officers found a 0.003g trace of cannabis stuck to his shoe.
“If they find any amount – no matter how minute – it will be enough to attract a mandatory four-year prison sentence.
“What 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.”
British resident Cat Le-Huy was arrested in Dubai for carrying Melatonin jet-lag tablets, which are sold over the counter in the US and Dubai.
Mr Le-Huy told BBC News he was forced to sign a document in Arabic and was refused a translator.
He said once the tablets were proved to be Melatonin, police took what he described as dirt from his bag and said they were now testing it to see if it was cannabis.
Tracy Wilkinson was held in custody for eight weeks before customs officers accepted the codeine she was carrying had been prescribed by her doctor for back pains.
Meanwhile, a Swiss national is serving a four-year jail term after three poppy seeds from a bread roll he ate at Heathrow airport were found on his clothes.
Apparently, people go to Dubai for the “golden” beaches. Me? I would want to stay away from any place that is going to send me to jail for poppy seeds.
Some places just are not worth visiting. What sucks is that some of these people were caught up in this were just transiting at Dubai. So this undoubtedly means that there are other places I will not visit as a result.
[Update 4 Jan 2009] More reasons not to visit Dubai:
Today is Marnie Pearce’s 40th birthday. She might have expected to celebrate this landmark with the kind of lavish champagne-fuelled party usually enjoyed by fellow expatriates in the glittering cosmopolitan melting pot that is Dubai.
But instead of chinking crystal flutes, the former florist will spend the day with her two children, anxiously pondering her fate after she was sentenced in November to six months in jail for adultery.
In four days, a court in this Islamic state is expected to rule on her appeal over her conviction. If the appeal is rejected it will automatically result in her losing custody of her sons Laith, seven, and Ziad, three.
She has a stern warning for Western women living in Dubai: ‘They should be very, very careful about who they marry and have a family with. My case should also act as a wake-up call for those who think this is a tolerant and liberal society. It’s a mirage.
‘Many think the only real taboos are gambling and drugs, but the truth is that even having a boyfriend is illegal here. Whatever freedoms we see are superficial.
A little background about Sharia law, from wikipedia:
In practice Sharia law has sometimes resulted in women living in fear or disadvantage. In instances of rape some authorities of Sharia law require for an allegation to be validated, victims must have four Muslim-Male witnesses to the crime or else the victims risk being charged with fornication or adultery.(Afghan children raped with ‘impunity,’ U.N. official says) In Yemen Sharia law required compensation to be paid to the husband in the case of a 10 year old child bride who requested a divorce after rape and abuse(Child bride gets divorced after rape, beatings) (the minimum age of marriage under Sharia law is sexual maturation (Execution of a teenage girl – BBC)).