By Joanne Bladd
Daughters of Safi Qurashi lobby UAE Embassy over their father’s seven-year jail term in Dubai
The daughters of jailed British property developer Safi Qurashi
have launched a protest outside the UAE Embassy in London demanding his release,
it was reported Sunday.
Qurashi, the London-born businessman who paid $60m for an
island in the shape of Great Britain on Nakheel’s The World, was told last week
he must serve his full seven-year jail term after being found guilty of
bouncing millions of dirhams worth of cheques by a Dubai Court.
A judge in Dubai’s Court of First Instance last week upheld
the sentence following an appeal, quashing the hopes of the Qurashi family that the Briton would be
Thirteen-year-old Sara and 10-year-old Maaria began their
protest Saturday, accompanied by a dozen family members bearing placards, the
Sara, who established the website justiceformydad.com, told
the paper: "My dad was worried about us coming over [to Britain], but he
has supported me a lot. He told us that soon this will all be over."
The children plan to hold a 30-day protest outside the UAE
embassy in a bid to draw attention to their father’s case. The family has also
requested a meeting with Alistair Burt, the Foreign Office minister, the paper
The family hopes the British government will help to secure
a meeting with Dubai’s ruler, HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, where they
will seek a pardon for Qurashi.
Qurashi rose to fame as the owner of the 4.5-hectare island
that is part of The World, a man-made archipelago of reclaimed sandbanks
located off the coast of Dubai. He had initially planned to build a mix
of hotels, residential and commercial buildings on Great Britain, but the
scheme stalled in the wake of the global financial crisis.
According to the site ‘Justiceformydad.com’, Qurashi had
acted as a “middle-man” in a number of deals that saw clients transfer money
into his company in exchange for his purchasing land on their behalf.
In exchange for the money, Qurashi signed security cheques
over to the client that should have been returned on completion of the land
deal, the website claims. Instead, the cheques were cashed, leading to
Qurashi’s arrest and imprisonment for cheque fraud.
The London-born developer was later found guilty of signing
two cheques with insufficient funds and cancelling another.
The family has previously appealed to the British government
to appeal to its counterparts in the UAE to re-examine the case. A 115-page
case review written by Tarique Ghaffur, the former assistant commissioner of
the London Metropolitan Police, said in February it believed Qurashi may have
been wrongly convicted.
In a statement to Arabian Business, UK-based Fair Trials
International, which has lobbied on behalf of Qurashi, urged the Dubai
Government to reconsider the case.
“We urge the Dubai authorities to… release Safi, who has
already spent nearly two years in jail, so that he can return home to his wife
The UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office said in August that
he number of Britons arrested in the UAE fell by nearly a fifth last year,
aided by a decline in arrests for drug offences.
The Gulf state arrested 217 British tourists and expatriates
between April 1, 2010 and March 31, 2011, down from 265 arrests in the same period
a year earlier.
The British Embassy said in 2009 that Brits were more likely
to be arrested in the UAE than anywhere else in the world.
When I hear the truth regarding Robin Lohmann a German developer (ACI) behind Dubai branded Towers.
I have been following this story closely and support Qurashi and pray for his release. He is paying the price for bounced cheques that weren't his own. Thanks to Arabian Business for publicizing his situation and drawing the authorities' attention to the case. I hope this family's agony ends soon.
Business 101, returning the deposit check and registering the land in the new owner's name happens simultaneously. As businessman, Mr. Qurashi new that, this practice is nothing out of the ordinary, the facts are not all out there, something is missing.
Can someone please explain to his 10 and 13 years daughters what bounced checks are, and what it means when you fool people while security checks are not paid back.
I trust the UAE legal system, an important piece of information is missing and that is the reason Qurashi will spend 7 years in jail. Quraishi should have known that unlike the UK, in the UAE a security cheque should only be issued once one is fully satisfied of the transaction. This is another instance that confirms greed always blinds people's power of reasoning.
This is only to say that the public opinion in the UK doesn't care less for him, even less the UK Gouvernment which has multi billion dollar trade deals with arab countries. Obviously if he would be a politician or related to any important person in the UK there would probably be a deal behind closed doors.
To be honest, anyone that seriously believed a pile of seabed sand was worth $60m, probably deserves 7 years in prison!
@ Paul, I bet you are from the somewhere in the north. People did what the industry was doing, they tried, it was a global recession. Rather than mocking somebody who is in prison, maybe you could have given a better insight or constructive comment. I really wonder where were you and what were you doing back then? This is somebody's life, so please keep your ignorant comments of pile of seabed to yourself.
@ Paul King, i second your comment pal, a pile of seabed sand worth $60m is nothing short of preposterous and pathetic...
I agree with Paul King and reject Roya statement. No- people were NOT doing what the industry was doing.
Many of us have been here for some time. We know Dubai from the pre-real estate days and we know right from wrong. And we stayed on the right side of the law, as proper guests should do.