Title: American College Student Detained in Dubai After Altercation with Airport Officials
In a concerning incident that highlights the challenges faced by foreigners in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), a 21-year-old New York college student, Elizabeth Polanco De Los Santos, was recently detained in Dubai after an altercation with airport officials. The incident occurred during a layover in Dubai while Polanco De Los Santos was traveling from Istanbul with a friend.
At the security screening, Polanco De Los Santos agreed to remove her doctor-mandated waist training brace. However, she felt violated and uncomfortable when female security officers took it off. When she tried to put it back on by herself, she was prevented from doing so, prompting her to lightly nudge one of the officers seeking help from her friend.
To her shock, officials accused Polanco De Los Santos of “touching the female customs officer” and detained her for several hours while filing a complaint. The incident sheds light on the complex legal process in Dubai, which can prohibit accused individuals from leaving the country. This predicament has been exploited by scammers to extort money from unsuspecting foreigners in the past.
Detained in Dubai, an organization offering guidance and legal assistance to foreigners in the UAE, used Polanco De Los Santos’ case as an example of the challenges faced by visitors. Radha Stirling, CEO of Detained in Dubai, expressed concerns that individuals can be detained for an extended period on false or minor charges, potentially leading to years-long ordeals.
Since the incident, Polanco De Los Santos has spent months moving between hotels and attending court hearings, describing her experience as miserable. Stirling stressed that even if she wins her case, the unacceptable treatment of visitors forcing them to stay in the country at their own cost with the threat of imprisonment must be addressed.
Foreigners traveling to the UAE should be aware of such risks and consult organizations like Detained in Dubai for guidance and support. The incident involving Polanco De Los Santos serves as a stark reminder that even innocent travelers can find themselves entangled in a complicated legal system, dealing with significant consequences for minor misunderstandings or false accusations.
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