Social media influencer, Tierra Allen, met with Dubai’s prosecution this morning to discuss the criminal case against her for “slandering” the rental car agent who would not return her passport and credit cards.
The 29 year old truck driver was accompanied by the US consulate but does not have a local lawyer. Often the costs of a Dubai lawyer are prohibitive and Radha Stirling of Detained in Dubai says “hiring the wrong lawyer can exacerbate what is already a difficult situation”. Stirling wrote a book entitled “Lawyers in Dubai”, noting deep rooted issues through the justice system.
“Most tourists who do not have a lawyer in Dubai, will plead guilty, apologise and hope for a light sentence. The issue with this approach is if one is slapped with the maximum sentence and then needs to urgently appeal. It is harder to convince a judge at the appeal level that the first judge got it wrong.”
During Tierra’s meeting with the office of the prosecution, she explained that she reacted to the agent himself, who was indeed yelling at her, threatening her and swearing at her. “As with the case of James and Stanley, agencies deliberately try to evoke a response from unsuspecting tourists for the sole purpose of opening a criminal complaint”, explains Stirling who has dealt with numerous criminal complaints for “slander” or “offensive behaviour” over her 15 years operating Detained in Dubai. “It’s important to note that in James and Stanley’s case, they managed to record a copy of the CCTV which proved the rental car agency falsely accused them of assault”.
The prosecutors suggested that Tierra had “raised the middle finger” which she vehemently denies. They claimed there was “a witness”, presumably another rental car agency employee willing to corroborate their own story. Stirling continues, “Tierra is aware that there is CCTV footage and has been cooperative with her initial conversations with the prosecutors. It seems clear that prosecutors are siding with the accuser, denying that the accuser said anything to her at all which is outrageous and upsetting for Tierra.
“She was the victim of a deliberate provocation by an experienced expat to justify a police case that could be used to secure money from her. They know how to weaponize Dubai’s police for their own financial gain and the police seem all too willing to help”.
Prosecutors did not say whether they would take the matter to court. Instead, they told Tierra that she should try to reach a deal with her accuser. In other words, pay him off.
The meeting was very upsetting for Tierra. She was told the agent did nothing to provoke her and then added that she made a rude gesture, allegedly in front of some unnamed ‘witness’. They told her that if she didn’t ‘solve’ the case with her accuser, it would likely go to court which can result in imprisonment.
“This is a side business for many in the Emirates” adds Stirling, an expert witness on the UAE. “The nation has an unbalanced distribution of wealth along racial lines, resulting in a hierarchical structure of income. Despite a diverse population, racism is a part of everyday life in the Emirates. Pakistani, Indian, African and Asian workers are overall treated worse, paid less and often subjected to abuse and human rights violations within their vocation. Gulf Arabs are respected at the highest levels followed by white Europeans and Americans. The issue is so systemic that Dubai police even said to an African-American man that his embassy wouldn’t care because he’s not really American, he’s African.
“These issues create a sub-culture of predatory operators who see tourists as fair game. A false allegation can be made or a response can be provoked (as with Tierra) to justify a criminal case. They know and fully expect a payment from the tourist to close the case. We also see these predators working in collaboration with “fixers” or even legal “touts” who loiter outside police stations and law courts, hoping to persuade their targets to pay them. They claim to have friends within the judicial or governmental sector who will accept a bribe which of course, is a lie.
“Other legal ‘touts’ try to proactively source clients at police stations and courts. They turn out to be frauds, not real lawyers and are never heard from again. Sadly, these operations are mostly run by expats, including a number of British nationals reputed for exploiting people in desperate situations. The UAE is afterall, known to be a safe haven for fraudsters.
“With the support of Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee, Senator Ted Cruz and the American consul, we hope that the accuser will drop both the criminal and civil cases promptly. If not, Tierra would be well within her rights to open a counter criminal complaint against him. We hope not to have to complicate matters in this way but the method is often used to leverage a criminal case to be dropped. It’s also one of the reasons that making a criminal complaint in Dubai is so risky.
“The next step is to negotiate a solution with her accuser. As of last week, he wanted around US$10,000, an amount that is increasing by the day. It is truly outrageous that a country claiming to be so modern and glamorous, holds visitors hostage for months on end.”
CEO at Detained in Dubai