Caught out on Abu Dhabi (Skull 2.0)
(Extended remix)

Art Design Publicity at ADC | 29 June 2009
Powered by Front Line Assembly’s Aftermath (We all shall perish mix) on and Electrocution while writing this article.
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Make up your own mind, but know before you go

Click here to see a Wikipedia overview of Saadiyat, "the Island of Happiness".

Click here to watch an Australian news report of the detention of an Endemol UK executive for possession of Melatonin, an over-the-counter drug for jet lag, sold in many Western pharmacies, which led to his arrest, strip-search, forced urine tests, forced confession in Arabic— with no access to a lawyer. The report also states that he was not allowed to have tests independently confirmed after his subsequent arrest of the apparent possession of 0.03g of hashish, weighing less than a grain of sugar. (Update, May 2010: The Detained in Dubai charity informs: It cost him over USD$100,000 in legal—and an international publicity campaign—to finally get him out.)

For a report on this in The Times (UK), click here.

Click here (not online as of 24-02-2011) to see the 49-page list of banned prescription drugs offered as a link on a tourism website.

Click here to see a BBC news report of another man arrested for possession of cannabis, 0.03 grams on the tread of the bottom of his shoe. (Daily flights are conveniently available from Amsterdam to Dubai.) In the article, the Chief Executive of Fair Trials International says, "What many travelers may not realize is that they can be deemed to be in possession of such banned substances if they can be detected in their urine or bloodstream, or even in tiny, trace amounts on their person." Additional banned substances listed in the report include painkillers like codeine and some cold and flu medication.

Click here to see a report of the arrest of a man for the possession of 3 poppy seeds, from a bun eaten at Heathrow Airport, that were on his shirt.

Click to read about the apparent "sex on the beach" incident. You can search Google for more coverage.

Click here to read the US State Department’s country overview. Specifically for investors/business partners: "U.S. citizens have at times become involved in disputes of a commercial nature that have prompted local firms or courts to take possession of the U.S. citizen’s passport. Travel bans may also be enforced against U.S. citizens involved in financial disputes with a local sponsor or firm. Such travel bans, which are rigidly enforced, effectively prevent the individual from leaving the UAE for any reason until the dispute is resolved." Check out other overviews on other country government websites.

This may or may not apply to cultural and educational partners.

Click here and here to see reports of, among other things, forced labor conditions of construction workers from South Asia and prison for those, including Western expatriates, who were unable to pay mortgages and pay back other credit.

Also, these articles report 3000 cars abandoned at Dubai airport by fleeing expatriates earlier this year.

Also, click here for another report on the forced labour of South Asian construction workers, with confiscation of passports.

Click to read about prison for expat lesbians. Click to read about the detention of apparently "40 cross-dressing tourists".

Click here to read about outrage over the rape case of a French-Swiss teenage boy.

Make up your own mind, but know before you go

Click here to read about the new media law. Anyone writing negatively about the country is subject to a six-figure fine. If you can’t pay it, then debtor’s prison?

Click here to see journalists in the UAE anonymously chatting on their blog about a lack of press freedom, government intimidation and warnings to journalists, including expats.

Recently there was an unconfirmed report of a high-ranking expatriate journalist in jail.

Click here to see expats in the UAE chatting anonymously. Topics include "British adultress arrested in Dubai", "UAE sheikh filmed committing torture", etc.

On another UAE blog, you can read accounts like "Free Prisoner" about a Western expat whose young idealistic view-against visa-related extortion-may possibly have placed her in prison. After intensive blogging, this person has been silent for weeks.

Click here to see the torture tape by a member of the royal family of Abu Dhabi on the US ABC News. Click to read "Torture tape delays US-UAE nuclear deal, say US officials".

Click to see the current Human Rights Watch Report. Also click here for the country summary (January 2009). Also here is the HRW Report: (Saadiyat) "The Island of Happiness".

For glorious, uncontextualized arts publicity, click here...

And here.

To see an uncontextualized report at the UAE pavilion at the Venice Biennial 2009, click here.

And here.

These occur after the Human Right Watch report of "abuse and exploitation" on Saadiyat.

In future, we can expect generous complimentary travel for arts journalists, including airfare and 5-to-7 star accommodation to produce writings about art and design in the UAE in a comparatively weak trade journalist environment... resulting in uncontextualized publicity.

To read encouraging reports of art, design and outrage click here and here.

Click to see enticing employee opportunities at NYU Abu Dhabi in the Art Newspaper.

Click here to read about the NYU faculty uproar in 2008.

Click here to read a US ABC News report last month. "As they were heckled by the crowd, Human Rights Watch representatives called out Abu Dhabi for allowing the mistreatment of workers, alleging wage withholding and confiscated passports..."

Click here to see a report three weeks ago that state museums in Berlin, Munich, and Dresden have agreed to provide exhibits. Also Dubai plans to build arts and fashion districts "and change legislation to persuade foreign artists to take up residence in a new arts neighborhood..."

For a selection from the Telegraph alone in the past 20 days, click to read "End of a glittering Dubai dream: three Britons in jail accused of $500 million ’fraud’", "British entrepreneur flees debts in Dubai", "Sun, sand and a solitary cell" and "Man jailed in Dubai for wearing Marc Jacobs T-shirt featuring nearly nude Victoria Beckham".

Click here to visit the Abu Dhabi Tourism site and Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing.

If you see art/design magazines publishing beautiful announcements, art- and design-specific reviews and features without any mention of the disturbing contexts, they may have no idea about them. They might appreciate you sending the links above to raise their awareness. You could also inform your friends and colleagues who may fall victim to the intense commercials in certain countries and publicity to come.

It’s quite probable that art and design history will be writing about this era in future... so please act ethically in what you choose to do.

Be informed. Enjoy your trip.

And welcome to [the leading edge of Art Design Publicity.

1: Dreaming of Abu Dhabi | 2: UAE-Western branding as Hirst diamond skull 2.0 |
3: Art & Outrage 2009: shocking information on the UAE