British ambassador in UAE reminds UK expats about consular services

Published:  18 Oct at 6 PM
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Tagged: UK, Citizenship, UAE, England
As a result of the recent increase in the numbers of British expats falling foul of UAE laws or finding themselves in dangerous or difficult situations, the British ambassador has released a guide to consular services in the emirates.

Whilst a good number of UK expats scattered around various world destinations admit to having little faith in Britain’s consular efforts to aid those in various forms of distress, it has to be said the ambassador’s reminder is pointing in the right direction. Expats living and working in the UAE could well be forgiven for their lack of complete understanding of what seem to be illogical legal requirements in countries where cultural norms seem aeons away from their own.

Ambassador Philip Parham admitted consular support has its limits, but said his officials helped 23,000 Brits in distress during 2016. So far this year, they’ve reached out to a further 213 UK citizens, some of whom are at present detained in UAE prisons. His team, he added, becomes involved when it’s apparent things have gone very wrong, resulting in distressing circumstances needing the support offered to individuals, their partners and their families.

Parham said he’s reassured that most expat stays in the emirates are free of any trouble, but stressed the service is available to expats having a tough time for whatever reason. Consular officials are able to visit British citizens in hospital, in prison or in detention, as well as offering help and practical advice to victims of crime. Over 100,000 Briton are living in the UAE, with the region also receiving a total of 1.5 million British visitors every year.

Two recent cases involving consular assistance were covered in the world-wide media earlier thjs month, and may have provided a reason for the Ambassador’s reminder. The first involved Scotsman Billy Barclay, who was found to have one counterfeit banknote in his possession. Even although he’d no idea the note was fake, he spent weeks in house arrest prior to being cleared of any offence and repatriated.

The second case is still ongoing, and concerns another Scot, Jamie Harron, charged with public indecency after reportedly touching another man on the hip as he tried to pass him in a crowded bar. Harron denies he had indecent intent and his accuser has since dropped the complaint, but Harron is still subject to prosecution and a potential three-year jail sentence.
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