ICFUAE's Open Letter to Jeremy Clarkson regarding his endorsement of Emirates Airlines
Dear Jeremy Clarkson,
We are writing to you in reference to your recent appearance in an Emirates Airlines advert.
In the advert, you laud the companies new first class suite as something that is so luxurious and special, that anything one experiences after is sure to be a disappointment.
Indeed, it may, or may not, disappoint you to learn of a far more disconcerting reality that lays beneath the celebrations of luxury and grandeur on offer at Emirates.
Emirates Airline is a company that is owned wholly by the UAE government, who in recent years have come under heavy criticism for their human rights record. International organisations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have documented widespread cases of arbitrary detention, torture, and enforced disappearances in the UAE. Freedom of speech and assembly has also heavily curtailed in the country, in 2016 alone around 300 people were detained for posting comments on social media sites that were allegedly critical of the ruling family.
At the time of writing, prominent human rights activists, academics, lawyers, and students are currently languishing in jail on what are essentially speech charges. Many of them were disappeared for months, or even years at a time before eventually being charged, a period in which many claim they were subjected torture and other forms of ill-treatment by Emirati security forces, such as the prominent Emirati economist Nasser Bin Ghaith and the award winning human rights activist, Ahmed Mansour.
Yet despite this, many in the West still view the UAE in a positive light, associating it with the luxury and grandeur of Dubai's golden sandy beaches and five star hotels rather than systematic human rights abuses.
A key way the Emirati authorities are able to detract from human rights violations in the country is by reconstituting and marketing the UAE as a sort of consumer product in the West, notably through the 'Emirates' brand, which now situates itself firmly within the UK entertainment industry and has become inextricably linked with Arsenal Football Club as well as other UK institutions and landmarks.
Unfortunately, by appearing in the Emirates Airlines’ recent advert, you risk becoming complicit in the UAE's attempts to whitewash its increasingly appalling human rights record.
Here at the International Campaign for Freedom in the UAE, we implore you use your platform to speak up for human rights rather than provide cover to those who perpetuate such abuses on a daily basis.
Don't allow yourself to become part of a PR campaign for an authoritarian regime that has disdain for the basic rights of those living, travelling and working within its borders.