Thursday, February 11, 2010

Codeine doesn't mean Al Slammer any more

You remember the over-enthusiastic enforcement of the drug laws at Dubai airport?

People were escorted to Al Slammer for carrying what in their countries was over-the-counter medication, or having poppy seeds in their clothing, or having minute specks of cannabis on their shoes.

I did some posts about them at the time, back in 2008 I think.

There was outrage in the western, especially British, media, plenty of online criticism and 'don't visit Dubai' websites appeared. It was a real blow to Brand Dubai and I think it might have been this issue that was the beginning of the negative stories.

This problem has quietened down recently, presumably partly because people coming in were much more careful, maybe others cancelled their trip, but also it appears because the authorities have been less heavy-handed recently.

A report in Gulf News suggests a more reasonable approach. It also says that the damage being done by the reports was taken seriously by the authorities.

Major General Abdul Jaleel Al Mahdi, Director of the General Department of Combating Narcotics at the Dubai Police told Gulf News that the increase in reports about passengers carrying medical pills without a prescription got them to change the earlier regulation.

The law is still in place but the way people are dealt with has been changed.

"I agree the previous regulation was somehow strict whereby passengers were extensively interrogated and in extremely few cases detained till the substance is examined," said Lieutenant Colonel Khalid Saleh Al Kawari, Deputy Director of the General Department of Combating Narcotics at Dubai Police.

"Now if the pills are not clear to us or do not include a prescription, then we hold the passengers' passport till they provide evidence and for us to examine the substance, which only takes less than couple of days."

I've mentioned on here over the last couple of days some of the most often asked questions on forums from people planning to come to Dubai. 'How much do I need to live on' is one, 'what's the weather like in (a month)' is another. The third is about OTC or prescription medicines.

The medication question came up again yesterday on a forum, showing that those reports are still having an effect.

What a pity the new more reasonable approach wasn't used in the past.

The Gulf News story is here.


Dave said...

Do I see a brightening light of common sense shining through here?

(The cynical side of me would ask if any of the 'ground-floor'troops have been told about this new concept).

Seabee said...

Right, Dave, that's a problem everywhere. Well-meaning legislation or company policy being interpreted on the ground by badly paid, badly trained, badly informed staff bored out of their minds and with power way beyond their abilities.