British National who escapes Dubai after falling victim to a "rental car scam" seeks to su
- Charles Paul Goldstein forced to stay in Dubai for almost a year - Denied urgently needed medical care & faced homelessness - Out of desperation he escaped the country and fled to the UK - Is now instructing lawyers to seek justice against UAE government
Charles Paul Goldstein was on vacation in Dubai where he rented a luxury car. The car company later made accusations that he had damaged the car to the tune of £100,000 and expected him to reimburse it. Charles explains that the car was not damaged and he had full insurance, insurance they later said was invalid because they did "not accept Canadian drivers licenses”, despite accepting it at the time of enrolment.
The rental agency opened a police case against Goldstein which lead to his arrest and the confiscation of his passport. He was not given a court date, nor provided with any evidence of the accusations. In fact, it seemed that the car was still being rented out. Goldstein commented “It is a scam to extort funds from people that the car company perceives as wealthy”. While investigating and talking with other expats in Dubai, he heard numerous stories of the same thing happening to others. Charles told us that “they mostly target wealthy Russian clientele who are likely to simply give in to their demands, rather than be held captive in the UAE. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the funds they sought and so fell victim to this fraud which had serious medical consequences to me”.
Charles Paul Goldstein has a prosthetic leg, and then accidentally broke his leg in 8 places at Bur Dubai police station, and was awaiting an operation to remove metal scaffolding in his pelvis that needed a specialist team of doctors in the UK to operate. His detention in the UAE meant that he could not get the medical care he needed. Not only did he not have insurance to cover the bills, but the local medical professionals lacked the skills and history on his case. He lobbied the UK Embassy who put him in touch with a charity to assist him with medical bills, but Charles said “they never arranged anything and my leg got worse and worse over time. I was in agony and slowly dying”.
Six months later, Goldstein had no end in sight and thought he would be stuck there for ever and felt he’d be left there to die. He realised that he was only going to get worse and decided to make plans to leave the UAE by any means. He managed to safely escape the country (in a wheelchair) and return to the UK. In December 2015, he was sentenced in absentia to a fine equating to around £1,000. Goldstein explains "The Judge did not find any evidence of wrongdoing and fined me for returning the car one day late”. The wheels of justice in the UAE move remarkably slow. It is unfathomable to most people that someone who was vacationing in Dubai for a week, could be kept there for the best part of a year before a court will even hear the matter. Goldstein, like many others in this situation, struggled to survive. While the government prohibits their departure, they are not provided with accommodation and are not allowed to work. For many people, this has meant being tossed out on the street. We as an organisation, receive calls for help from individuals in this exact situation on a constant basis. It is my view that if the UAE is going to forcibly retain people in their country pending prosecution, they need to have provisions in place to provide accommodation and a basic survival income. It is not acceptable that the UAE expects people to be able to support themselves for up to a year (or in some cases more) without being able to work. This is a serious flaw in the system and needs to be addressed.
Since Goldstein returned home earlier this year, he has suffered two heart attacks that doctors told him resulted “from the delay in medical attention for his leg”. Goldstein has since paid his fine by cheque and naturally wants to see the UAE held legally accountable for their treatment and is consulting with lawyers in respect of litigious action. In most countries, it is possible to take legal action against government bodies and law enforcement for negligence; but in the UAE I think that Goldstein would struggle to find any lawyer to represent his claim or any Judge that would dare rule against the crown.
This is yet another example of the types of matters that have lead us to launch our new membership program Proponence, which is designed to provide emergency and ongoing legal support in the UAE to expats and visitors. The legal climate in the UAE can be unstable and unpredictable in nature. It is easy to end up in a situation that one would never think possible, facing the UAE’s judicial maze. Expats and visitors need to exercise extreme caution when in the UAE but even with the most diligent of residents, charges are often unavoidable.
Press Contact: Radha Stirling, +44 7050 686 745, firstname.lastname@example.org