A Royal Disgrace – Sentebale in Dubai

Prince Harry does great work with Sentebale. The commitment he and Prince Seesio have made to bettering the lives of the children of Lesotho deserves much praise. Making a difference takes money. I imagine turning down large sums of it is something non-profits are loathe to do. But this October 7th fundraising dinner is a poor move no matter how much can be done with the money.

Expensive yachts surrounded by glittering skyscrapers.
Dubai’s glittery illusion.
(Photo courtesy of Ikon Pictures)

Dubai has positioned itself as a modern, friendly city in the midst of Western-hostile, conservative nations. It sells itself as progressive, glamorous, and the perfect holiday destination for Western travelers with money to spend. But it’s a farce.

The truth is the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is still ruled by hard-line Islamic law and while requiring women to dress conservatively when out in public is hardly a human rights violation the way victims of sexual assault are treated is despicable and intolerable. Recently the story of Norwegian woman Marte Deborah Dalelv, who went to the police when she was raped only to find herself jailed for sex outside of marriage, garnered world-wide attention. But her experience with the UAE legal system is hardly unique. In a world increasingly dominated by rape culture, the UAE has managed to reach the apex of victim-blaming. In this case, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoumwas, vice-president and prime minster of the UAE and ruler of Dubai , pardoned Ms. Dalelv but only to save face internationally.

This man who so generously pardoned Ms. Dalelv of her “crime” will be hosting Prince Harry at the fundraising dinner. Sentebale will also be partnering with the sheikh’s non-profit healthcare organization. Does his organization offer treatment to victims of sexual violence?

The prestige Harry’s visit will give Dubai’s ruler glosses over the crimes against humanity his government commits (their human rights violations extend beyond the sexual assault cases, see the links below.) This royal visit passively condones the horrible injustice Ms. Dalelv and other women have suffered in that country. While Sentebale will gain needed support, Dubai gains even more to prop up its facade of progressiveness with a visit by a senior member of the royal family.

What a shame.

Here are more links chronicling the UAE’s history of human rights abuse:


4 thoughts on “A Royal Disgrace – Sentebale in Dubai

  1. I can’t say I agree with the sentiment that the visit is a disgrace for a few reasons:
    1. We are currently obsessed with focusing on policing islamic states fod their treatment of women when in actuality the west still practices rape culture. Singling them out and not every other state he’s visited kind of seems like more anti islamic verbage
    2. The uae is a sovreign nation and those are the rules those people agree to live by. Just like vladimir putin pointed out the west (lead by the us) is running around the world bullying everyone elses way of life. While we may not like the rules in the uae, its their right to live that way and have govt officials who uphold those laws so essentially holding one man responsible for an entire country’s preferred way of living is a reach.
    3. While human rights statistics tell one story of life in the uae I urge anyone interested to take a look at other aspects of life in the uae -education, quality of life, etc.
    Don’t get me wrong, rape is a terrible thing. I just don’t agree with saying visiting dubai is a disgrace and siting problems everyone has/not caring about that nations right to rules flies.
    Thanks though

    1. What other countries has he partnered with which have similar anti-rape victim laws? (Genuine question.)

      While I understand why you (or others) might write my opinion off as anti-Islamic that certainly isn’t the case. Nor am I suggesting that people shouldn’t visit Dubai. The difference to me is this charity is forming a partnership with a leader who condones laws such as requiring four men who witnessed the attack and a confession from the attacker before a sexual assault conviction. Indeed, rape culture is prevalent around the globe but this blog focuses on one subject so for the purpose of this post the law – not just culture – of this particular nation is what’s relevant. I know the UAE has made strides in rights for women in other areas but in my opinion those attempts are cancelled out by this fatal flaw in their legal system.

      Thanks for your comments.

  2. Sexual abuse is unacceptable in our society but is a pity that such activities still take place in our society’s today, I grows up with the Islamic peoples at the time of my growing up around them as a christians life was easy and stable but I sometime found it difficult to believe that a real Islamic person that I used to know as a religious person when I was a teenager can welcome any abuse on children,but such things are common in our society if in our Christianity wood worldwide children are been abuse on a daily base it happened,and it is becoming embarrassment to others children’s as grown to hear story of abuse on other children’s as adult we must do what’s is right for our children’s because every adult should endorse in the act of caring for our women and children all over the world not to be abusive to the because without our female children’s our society will become dry, worthless weather you are a Muslims or a Christian it is time for us to come together as human being and put our hands together to help the human right watch and fight against sexual abused and raps among our female children’s in our world today I hope people will not misunderstand this article!for those of you that understand where I am coming from thanks for your understanding,I have never been to Dubai before but I guess is a peaceful place for anyone to visits no matter our religious we can still help to build our world I remain Irene E. Udoh

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