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.”