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Dubai's Less Than Zero Tolerance Warning

Monday, November 26, 2007
Three more young Brits are facing over 4 years in jail in the United Arab Emirates after being caught with a small amount of cannabis in their flat in Dubai, following a tip off to cops by an informer.

The three unnamed 21 year old college students' arrest came days before a 27 year old Frenchman was sentenced to four years for being caught with leftover crumbs (0.9 grams) in a bag, at the airport, and followed a direct warning to Europeans that they face jail if caught with any amount.

"When it comes to narcotics, the quantity of drugs being smuggled is immaterial and enforcement officers are not flexible," Dubai Appeals Court judge Mahmoud Fahmi told expat newspaper Gulf News last week, "Officers are working to eliminate drug smugglers even if the suspect is carrying what we call traces of narcotics."

His comments were backed by Drug War Chronicle who warned last month that travellers passing through Dubai 'should take a thorough inventory before heading for the airport.'

"On May 31, the Dubai Court of First Instance found a 24-year-old Italian man identified only by the initials "A.D." guilty of smuggling and possessing 1/100th of a gram of hash after he arrived at the airport," the US media organization reported, "The quantity discovered -- 1/2800th of an ounce -- is too small to be usable and so tiny that the fact it was detected at all is remarkable," they added.

Despite such cases, US R&B uber-producer Dallas Austin proved the exception to the rule in July, when he pleaded guilty to importing over a gram of cocaine and ecstasy for a birthday party for Naomi Campbell.

The Madonna/ TLC producer received a four year sentence though was immediately pardoned by Dubai's ruler, with a little help from high-powered friends, said MTV.

The TV channel quoted the New York Times as saying 'such pardons are not unusual' for drug users with the right connections, which in Austin's case included a US Senator, and various hugely famous pop stars.

"According to The New York Times, Austin's pardoning last week after his conviction on drug possession charges came courtesy of some high-level string-pulling," MTV claimed, "Behind the feat: Utah Republican Senator Orrin Hatch, singer Lionel Richie, producer Quincy Jones and a fleet of well-connected businessmen and lawyers who vouched for Austin's character."

Jonty Skrufff