I have no idea whether the United Arab Emirate courts were justified in handing out a life sentence to Matthew Hedges, a British PhD student , for spying. He confessed his guilt, which his family say was a forced confession, the Sharia based court send him away for 25 years. What I would question is this: why would anyone want to go there in the first place?
Oh, I know the UAE is popular among the better off, who presumably don’t give a toss about the undemocratic nature of the emirs, who aren’t bothered about the appalling lack of rights which are endured by workers, the absence of a free press, a society in which people can be stoned, crucified and have limbs amputated if they break the Sharia laws. And if you renounce religion, you will be executed. Homosexuality is illegal, too. Otherwise, it’s a great place to spend a holiday or go spying.
Call me old fashioned but I have no interest in visiting a place which such horrible, backward laws. Personally, I would not feel too comfortable traipsing around the UAE with my partner, who is a woman so she would automatically be regarded as a second class citizen and my youngest son whose sexuality would distress the mad Mullahs of the UAE. I would no sooner visit any place where basic freedoms are denied, not least the absence of meaningful elections all in the name of the mythical God character.
If Mr Hedges is innocent, then the truth will out sooner or later. We don’t know any of the alleged facts that saw him sent down so I am sure we will soon find out. In any event, he has the right of appeal. But my view is that just to be on the safe side don’t go to the UAE. I know it gives you the opportunity to show off on social networks but you’re also giving succour to an odious regime. Why bother?