Dubai boss says sacking rape case woman was wrong

Owner of The ONE says Wissam Al Mana’s decision to fire Norwegian was a mistake

Thomas Lundgren, the owner of Dubai-based The ONE.

Thomas Lundgren, the owner of Dubai-based The ONE.

The owner of Dubai-based The ONE has conceded it was “absolutely wrong” to sack a Norwegian woman who was charged with extramarital sex after reporting she had been raped.

Marte Deborah Dalelv was terminated from her job at Doha’s Al Mana Interiors, a franchise of The ONE, before being given a 16-month jail term. On Monday, Dubai’s Ruler Sheikh Mohammed pardoned her.

Speaking to Arabian Business, The ONE owner Thomas Lundgren said that, in hindsight, sacking Dalelv was “a mistake” and that Al Mana Interiors should have only put her position on hold until the legal process was completed.

“That was a mistake because it has no justice,” Lundgren said.

“The termination was absolutely wrong. That was unnecessary, totally unnecessary.”

Dalelv was sacked in a letter signed by Al Mana Interiors boss Wissam Al Mana. “... your employment agreement is termination due to your unacceptable and improper behavior [sic] during your last business trip in Dubai, which has resulted in your arrest by the Police Authorities in UAE,” the termination letter dated April 9 says.


Lundgren said both Dalelv and the Sudanese colleague who was accused of raping her and sentenced to 13 months’ jail for extramarital sex would be offered back their jobs.

“If she wants to work [in Doha] or for us she has a job,” he said.

“He [Al Mana] has no problem with her, I can promise you that.

“Me and [Al Mana] have had long discussions about this and me and him feel we should have been much more involved.”

Dalelv would be offered whatever support she wanted – and so too would the male colleague.

“It’s all about what she wants,” Lundgren said. “She will tell me exactly what she wants and I will help her with anything she needs.

“But I will do that for the other guy also. I will not treat them differently, that would be absolutely unethical.”

Dalelv, an interior designer, was in Dubai for a short business trip in March when she claims she was raped by her colleague after she asked him to escort her to her room at the end of a work event where they had both been drinking alcohol.

She was charged with extramarital sex and illegally drinking alcohol after reporting the incident to police.

She said she was later advised by an Al Mana Interiors manager to say the sex was voluntary and the matter would be dismissed. However, she was then also charged with making a false statement.

Lundgren said he would not make any judgment on either former employee.

“He says he didn’t do it,” he said. “Did he do it, did she [lie]? I don’t know.”

Lundgren said he had seen parts of hotel video footage showing the pair leaving the event and walking to a hotel room.

“She followed him into the room and what happened in that room is between two people and it’s up to the legal system to decide that,” he said.

“There is a legal system in the Middle East and if you [are] in the Middle East you have to live by the rules in the Middle East.”

A statement released on Sunday by Al Mana Interiors said it had supported Dalelv throughout the ordeal.

“We are sympathetic to Marte Dalelv during this very difficult situation,” the statement said.

“Only when Ms. Dalelv declined to have positive and constructive discussions about her employment status, and ceased communication with her employer, was the company forced to end our relationship with her.

“The decision had nothing to do with the rape allegation, and unfortunately neither Ms. Dalelv nor her attorneys have chosen to contact the company to discuss her employment status.

“We continue to be open to helping Ms. Dalelv and extending her resources during the Dubai legal process. We are hopeful that we can resume a positive discussion about the assistance she needs during this difficult time.”

Join the Discussion

Disclaimer:The view expressed here by our readers are not necessarily shared by Arabian Business, its employees, sponsors or its advertisers.

NOTE: Comments posted on may be printed in the magazine Arabian Business

Please post responsibly. Commenter Rules

Posted by: Finn

Al Mana might have saved face in that one country, but due to their clumsy and outright insulting behaviour towards Dalev, they've lost face in all civilised countries.

What they're offering now, is too little, too late.

Posted by: Know the law

It is against the UAE Labour Law to terminate an employee for an offence unrelated to the employee's job, so the dismissal was illegal. The offence occuring on a business trip does not qualify as 'employment related'. It is surprising how many people are totally unaware of the law.

Posted by: Colin Occupants

She's employed by a Qatari company so the UAE Labour Law does not apply.

Posted by: DayWalker

Offering her her job back will definitely not help her get over the fact that Al Mana Interiors decided to ditch her to save face. If she does take her job back, it will be interesting to see how she will face those who made the decision to send her the letter terminating her contract. I hope she is able to move on with another employer in different surroundings.

Posted by: Andy

Mr.Lundgren your decision to support both and offer jobs to both does not make sense. You are not willing to make a judgement call then fine, but don't forget one of them is lying! So you are going to support and offer job to either a liar and rapist or someone who got drunk, had sex and then claimed she was raped? Harsh but true, you cant have it both ways Mr. Lundgren.

Posted by: Quds

Still you could really only blame her for false accusation at most (not to say this would in that case not be serious, because it is!).

I think in a case with this much international attention you could hardly sustain the hypocrit accusation of actually consuming what has legally been purchased.
Hopefully soon the Gulf and Middle East will incorporate some universal accepted rights on the integrity of the human body in her law system.

Posted by: HDee

Hello .... my friend . Would U be so concerned had there been a female from another country ! Just want to get yourself into the picture , for what !!

Posted by: owi

it has nothig to do with witch country she is from. Rape is not exsepted under anny surcomstenses.

All comments are subject to approval before appearing

Further reading

Features & Analysis
Everything you need to know about Qatar

Everything you need to know about Qatar

Former British protectorate has been ruled by the Al-Thani family...

The Al Thanis are Qatar's power family

The Al Thanis are Qatar's power family

New research sheds light on the overwhelming influence of the...

Raising the bar: DLA Piper plans fresh growth in the Gulf

Raising the bar: DLA Piper plans fresh growth in the Gulf

Legal firm DLA Piper’s Middle East business recorded 10 percent...

Most Discussed