As i read over a letter released by businessman Safi Qurashi the London based entrepreneur who is currently serving eight years in a Dubai jail for bouncing a cheque, i couldn’t help but wonder where it all went wrong. When did crimes like bouncing cheques and public displays of affection become punishable by years of imprisonment? Where does it end?
Thousands of Britons over the last decade have been willing to chance their business luck on the prospering economy of Dubai. But stories like London businessman Safi Quarashi’s are becoming worryingly frequent.
When visiting countries within the Unites Arab Emirates you stand more of a chance of getting arrested than you do anywhere else in the world. It goes without saying that in a country like Dubai where acts of swearing, homosexuality, adultery and cross-dressing can and very often do lead to arrest, western men and women play a dangerous game by choosing to reside there. This is a reality thats too familiar with British businessman Safi Quarashi.
Quarashi is among many businessmen including British born Peter Margetts, currently serving hefty jail sentences in Dubai for bouncing cheques - yes, that’s a crime in Dubai.
Just like hundreds of others, Quarashi saw opportunity to make a success of himself in the incredibly fast paced Dubai property market. Having made a killing in his first business, Premier Real Estate Bureau LLC and with the number of people he was employing climbing from five to one hundred in a mere two years, it was then that he had the opportunity to buy an island in the shape of the British Isles off the coast of Dubai, the island was bought for $60m.
Quarashi was savvy enough to account for the downturn in Dubai’s economy and when it finally came he was still in a strong position financially with his business still turning over $1bn.
It was on the 15th of January that his life took a dramatic turn as he was trialed (for no longer than a total of 5 minutes) and convicted of bouncing cheques, subsequently he has been sentenced to 8 years imprisonment under Dubai law. The living standards of the jails in Dubai aren’t even fit for animals, he is allowed to make 3 phone calls per week that can only be 3 minutes in length. During this time he has to manage his bussiness, speak to his family and compromise with his lawyers.
The Dubai he knows and loves has become the backdrop of a living nightmare with no real light at the end of the tunnel.
I ask, why can a power such as Dubai, which is incidentally largely dependent on international business, have such a backwards legal system? What is the British government doing to help the hundred being unjustly held? Where is their right to a fair trial?
As a result of the hunger strike that Qurashi is currently staging he has been taken to a nearby hospital wing due to collapse. His children have spoken out and help can be given at Justiceformydad.com. Follow their plight on Twitter @justiceformydad.
Below is a YouTube video by his 13 year old daughter.