The spotlight of the international media, human rights organisations, and western governments often falls upon the UAE, particularly in recent years. Attention, however, tends to focus on the emirates of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, the smaller, lesser-known emirates are rarely scrutinised. Leading expert, Radha Stirling, CEO of Detained in Dubai and founder of Due Process International, says the country’s northernmost emirate, Ras Al Khaimah, has been exploiting this lack of attention for years.
Stirling’s involvement in several pivotal cases emerging from Ras Al Khaimah, and her own independent investigations into systemic corruption in the emirate led her to uncover details of suppressed information that portray Sheikh Saud as an erratic, paranoid, and vindictive despot who unabashedly misappropriates public funds to both enrich himself and finance personal vendettas against former allies and advisers. “Shortly after coming to power by circumventing the standard succession process, Sheikh Saud engaged in a major purge of officials whom he suspected were loyal to his political rivals. He jailed and tortured whoever remained in the country, and the others he has pursued around the world via Interpol and court judgments issued by judges under his control. He seized the government budget after eliminating all the officials responsible for oversight, and has engaged in multiple illicit deals and illegal activities for his own profit, including likely violations of international sanctions against Iran.
“By any definition, Sheikh Saud is unstable, both politically and personally. He does not enjoy the support of the population of Ras Al Khaimah, the major Arab tribes, but only retains the throne under the auspices of the government of Abu Dhabi, whom he has previously sought to betray by planning to build a secret oil pipeline to Iran. He was arrested in the United States for sexually assaulting a hotel maid in his room, and the woman later died under suspicious circumstances. This is a mafioso, not a head of state, and the corruption of his regime has spread through every sector of the government; from Customs officials, to police, to the judiciary.”
Stirling is communicating with major international business institutions, ratings agencies, and governments to alert them to the dangers posed by Saud. “It is unacceptable that wrongdoing on this scale can be ignored, and that foreign investors can continue to be misled about conditions in Ras Al Khaimah,” She says, “We understand that Fitch will be issuing a new assessment of RAK in the coming weeks, and we are urging them to tell the truth; Ras Al Khaimah under Sheikh Saud is not safe. Criminal actions by the government are reminiscent of Iraq under Saddam Hussein, and investors need to be aware. I have been involved in issues of human rights violations and legal abuse in the UAE for over 13 years, and nothing compares to the sheer magnitude of the malfeasance that defines Ras Al Khaimah.”