Tierra Allen was enjoying her second visit to Abu Dhabi and Danielle Jefferies had been working in the Middle Eastern city for more than five years when the very unexpected happened. Though they were on different trips, at different times, and encountered different problems, they say they will never return to Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates.
Allen was arrested for shouting at someone, not shooting, but, yes, talking too loudly. Jefferies says she was wanted by police for a white-collar work permit processing charge. They both spoke about their harrowing experiences during “When Black Women Gather's "Traveling While Black, Being Detained in Dubai.”
“Well, you’re not really American, you’re African, so your Embassy isn’t going to help you” she has heard officers and judges unapologetically declare when reviewing cases involving African Americans.
Allen’s ordeal started when her cab driver got into an accident. Discord started when she tried to retrieve her passport and other belongs from the cab company’s office and firm personal demanded $10,000 for the return of her personal items.
“We have seen people pay $20,000 just to get their passport back,” added her attorney, United Kingdom-based Radha Stirling. Her London firm, Detained in Dubai, specializes in legal issues in the Middle East.
Stirling has represented businesspersons and celebrities including Laleh Shahravesh, a British citizen, who was arrested in nearby Dubai for having called her ex-husband an "idiot" and her ex-husband's new wife a "horse" in a Facebook post
The human rights advocate clarified that despite Emirati attempts to portray their country as an inclusive playground, it is racist, sexist, and homophobic. Continental Africans, she says, are treated “extremely badly.”
“Well, you’re not really American, you’re African, so your Embassy isn’t going to help you” she has heard officers and judges unapologetically declare when reviewing cases involving African Americans. Black Brits are often given similar second-class treatment.
She has helped more than 20,000 clients and calls getting the media’s attention, ”the process of escalation.”
African Americans are often afforded the higher American standard of treatment only when the US Embassy steps in. “The United Arab Emirates (UAE) and other Gulf nations don’t take African countries as seriously as they take the American/Western counterparts,” affirmed Stirling and is the “true face of racism in the UAE.”