ICFUAE | International Campaign For Freedom in the UAE

ICFUAE | International Campaign For Freedom in the UAE
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Over 100 Australian's Detained in the UAE in One Year Alone

6 months 2 weeks

Over 100 Australian's Detained in the UAE in One Year Alone

The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) have revealed that in the last year alone, there have been over 100 reported cases of Australians being detained in the UAE.

Figures revealed, that after China, the UAE saw the sharpest increase as a site for detention of Australian citizens abroad.

Commenting on the detention of Australian nationals abroad, the Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop told reporters there was little the Australian government could do to redress the issue, stating that

“We can't get you out of jail, we can't pay your medical bills but we can provide support and assistance”

Similarly, in recent years there has been a steady rise of cases in the UAE concerning the detention of British citizens.

Over the last five years there have been around 1,350 cases of British women being detained in the UAE, a substantial number of which have reported torture and mistreatment at the hands of Emirati authorities. A freedom of information request to the FCO last year found that the UK Foreign Office has intervened in just 28 of these cases, despite maintaining 50 pages of data for each of the prisoners as they monitor their situations.

There is a common trend in the UAE whereby the foreign nationals are regularly detained for breaking Emirati laws that they weren't previously aware existed.

In March of this year, an expatriate couple in the UAE were arrested for having sex outside marriage after a South African man took his Ukrainian fiancée to a doctors in Abu Dhabi after she developed stomach cramps. The medical staff found her to be pregnant and subsequently demanded her marriage certificate. When the couple failed to provide one, they were detained by authorities.

Similarly, in July of this year, a British woman was jailed in Dubai for having sex outside marriage whilst on holiday in the UAE. 

Just a couple months ago, two Singaporean nationals were arrested in UAE, and subsequently charged, for “looking feminine”, whilst taking part in a photo shoot in a Dubai shopping mall.

Commenting on this particular case at the time, Rahda Stirling, CEO of Detained in Dubai, an organisation that assisted the pair, who have since been released, stated that “The UAE has built a tolerant, cosmopolitan image, but the laws continue to reflect the conservative, traditional values of the society. It is not uncommon for visitors to be confused about what is or what is not acceptable behaviour”

As these cases build up, it is imperative that the Emirati authorities provide clearer information to foreign nationals about the law when they enter the country. Furthermore, more action needs to be taken by Foreign and Commonwealth Offices to raise awareness among their respective citizens of the real risks and dangers of travelling to the UAE. By not doing so, foreign nationals in the UAE are left increasingly vulnerable to arbitrary detention and other forms of ill-treatment at the hands of the Emirati authorities.


- For more information, comment requests or press queries, please contact or  see

- For more information regarding the detention of British women in the UAE, please see

- For more information on the Singaporean nationals detention for 'looking feminine', please see

- For more information regarding the detention of the young expat couple in the UAE, please see

- For more information on the detention of the British women for having sex outside marriage, please see

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