Sometimes things remind me that we are not in the West and that more care has to be taken than you would expect. The case of Tracy Wilkinson highlighted this to the British recently and I have had more personal experience of this.
Under UAE law if you are involved in a road accident and there have been injuries then you will be arrested and put into prison. If you are injured yourself then you can have hospital treatment prior to be taken away. A friend of mine was doing a U-turn at some lights when a Local ran the red light and ploughed into him. Fortunately for my friend he was driving a large American 4x4 and the other driver was in a Peugeot 206. My friend got away with whiplash and some cuts but the National had a badly broken leg, fractures, and was generally not very well. It was thought that the man would loose his leg. Although my friend was innocent and even had a witness in the car with him he was locked up.
My friend is a Canadian citizen, but was born and raised in the UK. The British embassy was informed that he was in prison. Nobody from the embassy ever visited him. However, the Canadian ambassador and the Dutch ambassador (long story but boring) came to see him. His company employed a high-powered local lawyer and after 5 days he was let out of jail – on bail.
The moral of the story is don’t have a car crash with a National, if you do don’t be British, and if you are get a good lawyer!
Another friend was not quite so lucky (or rather was more stupid). After a late night Thursday session on the pop he decided to go into the office on a Friday. Setting off at about 6:30am the roads were very clear. Driving a German sports car he felt the journey would take no time at all. Reaching Mussapha, he sped over the roundabouts quickly until he came to one when a dog wandered in his path. Rather than driving over it (Arab approach) he swerved to avoid it thereby destroying his car and leaving him with shattered wrist and several broken ribs.
He was taken to hospital and blood was taken in preparation for a transfusion. This was found to have a quantity of alcohol in it. The laws here state that there is a zero limit for alcohol in the blood system. He was therefore placed under arrest. He was able to get a good lawyer who stated do not leave the hospital even if you feel OK. So he was in hospital for several weeks while the “slight problem” was being dealt with. It came to trial day and unfortunately nobody came to collect him. The police said “Right, you are well enough to go to court so you are well enough to go to prison”. A period of time in the notorious Al Wathba jail (see uaeprisons.com – but not in the proxy servered UAE) left him traumatised and unwilling to share his story except to say he would never go there again.
When the court reappearance was arranged he went to court to find the main charge was dropped and the remaining charge was of not having a liquor licence and being a resident. He was asked if he was getting one, as in “You are in the process of obtaining a liquor licence, aren’t you?” Being stupid he said no. This question was repeated and his lawyer agreed that he was getting a licence. He got away with a large fine and the time he had already spent in jail. The moral here is always know a National or reasonable faxsimile!
However the car was totally wrecked and the insurance refused to pay for any repairs. So minus 160,000 dirhams!