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Dubai: Arrested for drugs at airport. What can get you into trouble?

A mere allegation is sufficient to secure a conviction in the UAE.

Drugs in Dubai. What can get you into trouble?

The list is endless; Herbal tobacco, herb grinders, poppyseeds, cannabis smoked outside of the country, alcohol consumed on the flight, pharmaceuticals and more.

“More and more tourists are being arrested in Dubai over drugs that are not even drugs”, explains Detained in Dubai CEO, Radha Stirling. “Just last week, a Brit was arrested over herbal tobacco because it ‘appeared’ suspicious to authorities. He’s now been told he is going to go on a travel blacklist and won’t be allowed to return, despite carrying no contraband whatsoever.

“A number of travellers have been detained after random urine tests have returned positive results for cannabis smoked outside of the country while over the past decade, others have been arrested over culinary ingredients like poppy seeds.

“Last year, American citizen Peter Clark was detained for cannabis legally smoked in Las Vegas before his arrival.

“In Qatar, British national Conor Howard was detained for carrying a novelty and brand new herb grinder purchased legally in Australia. After he was released, Qatar decided to place him on Interpol’s database which subsequently caused his lengthy detention in Greece as he fought extradition proceedings.

“Inside the UAE, there is a huge push from local authorities to secure convictions for drugs related crime. The incentive has led to the wrongful prosecution of a number of innocent foreigners who were then subject to lengthy detention before ultimately being found innocent.

“In many cases, a single person has been found to be in possession of drugs but authorities have cast such a wide net, that innocent bystanders have also been detained.

Billy Hood was jailed for CBD oil inadvertently left in his car by a visiting friend. He has remained in horrendous conditions fighting for justice but in Abu Dhabi, things move slowly. He will never be the same again.

“Visitors to the Gulf should be reminded that even when innocent, they can still face lengthy and unfair detention, human rights violations, assault and torture. We fully expect to see more arrests in the region, particularly with the World Cup approaching.

“Lawyers in Dubai can be predatorial in nature, often charging foreigners hundreds of thousands for poor representation that can lead to wrongful conviction. It is simply not good enough to accept a ‘list’ of local lawyers from Embassies. Depending on the charge, it’s important to retain lawyers with integrity who effectively represent their clients and not prey on foreign nationals who fall foul of an underdeveloped legal system”.

Detained in Dubai was founded in 2008 and has since helped in more than 15,000 cases. They are the first port of call in a crisis situation.


Detained in Dubai:

CLAN - Crypto Legal Advocacy Network -

Due Process International:

IPEX - Interpol & Extradition Reform & Defence Experts -




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