UK town pulls award for Dubai ruler following human rights outcry

UK town pulls award for Dubai ruler following human rights outcry
Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum has been denied an award from a small UK town, following outcry from residents.
2 min read
04 October, 2018
Sheikh Mohammed was due to be made a Freeman of Newmarket [AFP]
A small UK town has denied an award to Dubai ruler Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, after outcry from residents concerned about the UAE's poor human rights record.

Sheikh Mohammed was due to be granted the status of Freeman of Newmarket, following a pledge to donate £1 million ($1.3 million) to a school in the English town.

Newmarket is also home to a famous race course, with strong links to horse-loving UAE royalty.

A number of residents and local Labour activists raised concerns about human rights abuses in the UAE during a council meeting, and argued that Newmarket should not grant the award to the Dubai ruler.

Before a vote was held, the motion to grant him the title was withdrawn with the town sending Sheikh Mohammed a thank you letter, instead.

"Giving the title of Freeman of the Town is a medieval practice which originally granted select citizens freedom from serfdom," said Ollie Bowen, a Labour activist who opposed the motion.

"Other medieval practices continue in the UAE, where Sheikh Mohammed is vice-president, including stoning, flogging and the detention of those who criticise authority."

The UAE has been condemned by human rights groups for its treatment of migrant workers, and its role in the war in Yemen which has led to at least 10,000 deaths - mostly civilians.