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Is London a safe destination for UAE tourists?

Are Emiratis increasingly becoming targeted in the country?

Source : Al Arabiya / 24 Apr 2014

Two separate attacks on Emirati tourists in London occurring within the space of three weeks have prompted concerns over whether the British capital is still a safe holiday destination for UAE nationals.

On Monday, a seven-member gang attacked an Emirati man and his wife in their London apartment , the UAE’s ambassador to the UK has announced, less than three weeks after three Emirati women were assaulted with a hammer in their hotel apartment in central London.

Mohammad Ali Al Tamimi, a son of the couple, told the Gulf News that the gang broke into his parents’ hotel apartment at about 1:30 am in Queensway district while his father was watching TV.

He said the assailants were “wearing face masks and carried guns, knives and hammers, and began to look for valuables,” according to Gulf News.

The son said the gang members stole all the valuables from his parents, including their passports.

Are Emiratis increasingly becoming targeted in the country?

“If they are being targeted it appears it is because they are presumed to be wealthy,” Chris Doyle, director of the London-based Council for Arab British Understanding told Al Arabiya News on Wednesday. 

Indeed, UAE ambassador Abdul Rehman Ghanem al-Mutaiwei stated that the couple were not hurt but added that their money, jewelry and credit cards had been stolen, the UAE’s state news agency WAM reported.

During the incident, the targeted man removed the mask of one of the attackers, prompting the thief to order his accomplice to shoot the Emirati citizen. The gang did not, however, shoot the Emirati man, WAM reported the ambassador as saying.

Will this second attack impact Emiratis’ choice of London as a holiday destination favorite?

“In the short term there will almost certainly be a fall-off in Emirati visitors but ultimately London is a safe destination. The authorities will take these attacks extremely seriously, and greater security will be needed around hotels and other tourism areas,” said Doyle.

The attackers, who reportedly carried hammers, knives and guns, purportedly fled the scene after hearing car sirens in the vicinity.

According to the ambassador, Metropolitan Police launched an immediate investigation and recovered some of the stolen property.

Hammer attack

Recently, three women from the United Arab Emirates were hospitalized in London after being attacked in their hotel room by a hammer-wielding man. The attack left one of the sisters brain damaged while property worth more than £1,000 ($2,000) was stolen and withdrawals totaling £3,000 were made on one of the victims’ bank cards.

After the incident, a poll carried out by the UAE newspaper al-Roeya revealed that a strong 76.5 percent of Emiratis no longer favor travelling to Britain.

More than 23 percent of respondees indicated that the apparently “slow investigation and meager security at the hotel made tourism in Britain dangerous and unsafe,” according to al-Roeya.

Contacted by Al Arabiya News, the official authority responsible for London’s tourism said the British capital is one of the “safest.”

“London is one of the safest big cities in the world and welcomes many millions of visitors every year who come to the capital to experience everything the city has to offer,” London and Partners (L&P) said in a statement.

It described London as having a “friendly multi-cultural population,” and “one of the top police forces in the world,” making the city “safe.”

It added: “Figures released this week show crime is falling in London and that burglary and robbery are at their lowest rates for many years.”

 

 

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