Emirati woman flees to Europe and makes desperate video appeal for refuge

Emirati woman flees to Europe and makes desperate video appeal for refuge
An Emirati woman has said that her life is at risk if she returns to the UAE.
4 min read
10 February, 2019
Albolooki fled her home in Dubai [Twitter]
An Emirati woman has made a desperate plea for help on social media, after fleeing her home in the UAE, where she claims she was subjected to threats from her family after filing for a divorce.

Hind Albolooki made a video appeal this week from a "holding centre" in Northern Macedonia, where she appeared visibly distressed and said she feared deportation back to the UAE.

"I came to Macedonia, running away from Dubai, as I feel threatened from my father, his big brother, my big brother that they will make my life hell… only because I asked for divorce," she said.

She said that she left her four children in Dubai, after male family members demanded she hand over her ID and passport.

"They want to hide my identity - I know there's something going on and I wasn't that stupid. So I thought of it and I ran away. I am a mother of four children. No mother would leave their children like this but I had to leave [them]."

In another video - which appears to have been made consecutively - she said that police had been investigating her and was concerned about being deported to the UAE where her life might be in danger.

"Please help me, whoever can hear me," she ends the video message.

Albolooki also opened a Twitter account to highlight her case.

"I'm seeking asylum in country where I can be safe. I was seeking asylum in Macedonia but because of the power of position in the country I've been abused and deny pls anyway to help me, my life is in danger. Please for help any country I can be safe and alive," she tweeted.

The New Arab could not verify Albolooki's account, which was opened in February when she said she fled the Gulf state, and have approached her for comment.

Albalooki has also shared a copy of her Emirati passport on Twitter, which activists said appears genuine.

UAE officials and media have also commented on her situation saying they would offer legal services if she returned home.

The UAE's embassy in Italy - responsible for consular affairs in Macedonia - confirmed in a statement that it is aware of Albolooki's situation and working with police to collect evidence against family members.

"Domestic abuse is a serious crime, and has no place whatsoever in the UAE. Emirati women are protected and fully empowered under UAE laws. Crimes involving harm against women are severely prosecuted under UAE law, and these allegations should and will be fully investigated," the embassy said in a statement.

Afra al-Basti, director-general of the Dubai Foundation for Women and Children, tweeted on Friday about Albolooki's plight.

"I was recently made aware of the case of @HAlbolooki. I am writing this to publicly demonstrate my support to this case. Everyone is entitled to have freedom especially women. Dubai and the leadership have set clear policies and laws to protect women in these circumstances," she tweeted.

She said that she had selected lawyers to assist the mother-of-four if she wishes to pursue a legal battle against her family.

However, activists on Twitter urged Albalooki to not return to the UAE, where they fear she could be harmed and urged countries to offer her refuge.

They said they believe the UAE was concerned with minimising the bad press Albolooki's situation might highlight regarding abuse and honour killings in the Gulf state.

It comes after a high-profile case of Saudi "runaway", 18-year-old Rahaf al-Qunun, who fled the kingdom to Thailand after reporting threats from her family.

Qunun used social media to highlight her case, after she was detained in a hotel and due to be deported back to Saudi Arabia. Canada eventually gave the 18-year-old asylum.

Paul McLoughlin is a news editor at The New Arab. Follow him on Twitter: @PaullMcLoughlin