US ambassador criticised for large number of UAE speeding tickets

Abu Dhabi diplomat under fire in official report for asking authorities to "reduce or eliminate" the fines

Ambassador Michael H Corbin, who was appointed to head up the Abu Dhabi Embassy in 2011

Ambassador Michael H Corbin, who was appointed to head up the Abu Dhabi Embassy in 2011

The US Ambassador to the UAE has been criticised in an official government report for racking up a large number of speeding fines and for asking local government authorities to have them reduced.

The 52-page report, published on Monday this week, was the result of an inspection carried out by the US state department’s inspector general at the Embassy in Abu Dhabi.

Ambassador Michael H Corbin, who was appointed to head up the Abu Dhabi Embassy in 2011, was also criticised for using a government credit card for personal expenses and low morale among his staff.

While the assessment praised the his role as ambassador, including increasing the US exports to the UAE, creating a favourable image for the embassy in business circles, and being a key facilitator in gaining the release of US military equipment for the UAE, the report highlighted a number of concerns.

“One result of the Ambassador’s frequent trips to Dubai and his crowded schedule is a large number of speeding fines on his vehicle. The mission has asked the host government to reduce or eliminate these fines in both Abu Dhabi’s and Dubai’s jurisdictions. This practice is contrary to Department and mission policy,” the report said.

The report recommended that the Abu Dhabi Embassy should stop requesting special handling of traffic fines.

The report also says “the Ambassador has not focused sufficiently on his staff and the internal workings of the embassy”.

A questionnaire carried out by Office of Inspector General revealed that Corbin’s “staff rated him below average in every leadership category”.

“Staff members reported their belief that the Ambassador does not spend enough time in the embassy and is disengaged from the community. Both Department and non-Department staff members assert the Ambassador does not have a full grasp of the mandate of their office or agency,” said the report.

It also says Corbin’s “focus on commercial promotion has de-emphasised other important US interests, such as law enforcement and illicit finance that agencies at the mission are working to advance”.

The report recommend that the embassy should “cease using a government credit card for the Ambassador’s personal expenses”. Even though the expenses were repaid, the report notes that “he benefited from the corporate rate and inappropriately used government resources for personal purposes”.

The report noted that Corbin purchased a camera kit with his own credit card, and then sought reimbursement from the embassy, which was provided. The report says “this constitutes an unauthorised commitment”.

Victor Hurtado, the US Consulate General in Dubai, also came in for criticism in the report, with concern expressed about how applicants “must wait in line outside in the heat and are not permitted to bring liquids with them; water is available only by purchasing it at a snack bar”.

There’s also a recommendation to install a water fountain in the consular waiting room.

Speaking to The National newspaper, a US state department representative said: “We believe the report contains some poorly substantiated assertions and take issue with several of the report’s statements.”

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Posted by: Mosa

Time has come to make this place like China, with scooters and bicycles with umbrella hats on everyones head with loose clothing, and then have a wardrobe in everyone's office with formal clothes. It will have 2 benefits, first: No fines, second: No traffic issues. But considering the conditions in UAE, I think if this really happens - the cameras will be programmed to capture bicycles overspeeding at 15 KPH etc

Posted by: Mohammed Alkiyumi

This story is about ABUSE OF POWER and ABSENCE OF LEADERSHIP and PROPER JUDGEMENT--the speeding tickets aspect of the story supports both but shame there's such a narrow headline --almost trivializes the issues.

Posted by: Glen

The UAE embassy in London has outstanding traffic-congestion charges of more than Dh50,000.
However, that pales when compared with the amount unpaid by the United States embassy, which owes Transport for London Dh52 million and includes congestion charges which the US government refuses to pay as they deem it to be a tax. IT IS ACTUALLY A PENALTY and the US Government who are guests think it is their job to reinterpret British Law
The congestion charge is levied on motorists for driving in certain parts of the city and is Dh62 a day.
?The UAE is usually very good at paying the congestion charge,? said a spokesman for Transport for London.

Posted by: Chris

The car may have speeding tickets but that doesn't necessarily mean the ambassador himself was driving. Radar cameras are everywhere, not police physically stopping drivers for speeding therefore you can't determine if he was at fault. I'm a US citizen enjoying living in Dubai and happened to meet the ambassador. He gave me his card and said if I ever need assistance his office was available. Seemed like a nice guy. I can't comment on the rest of it but making a report about speeding tickets is a little picky.

Posted by: abdulla

The speed cameras we have here in the UAE is just unbelievable!!
Ive lived in many countries around the world and have never ever seen a big numbers of cameras like here in the UAE!!
One day i just had the curiosity to see whats the distance between each camera, in Um quwain it was less than 1.5 km.
Dubai also .. in terms of speed cameras they are the worst among the others .. why you are selling fast cars when you limit the speed to 140km only in the high ways!
the big shock to me was in Abu Dhabi, a tunnel that takes you to Ittihad towers it caught me of 32km per hour... can you find anything like anywhere else?

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