Qantas warned about Dubai

October 3, 2012 by J-Wire Staff
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A  New South Wales solicitor has written to Qantas expressing concern for the human rights of travelers passing through Dubai, the airline’s new hub due to come into service next year as a result of the flying kangaroo’s alliance with the Emirates airline. This follows the arrest in Dubai of a respected doctor.Solicitor Andrew Hamilton has written the following letter to both Qantas CEO Alan Joyce and the airline’s general counsel Andrew Finch.

Andrew Hamilton

“I act for a human rights organisation concerned with the abuse of the human rights of citizens of democratic countries by non-democratic countries and related organisations.
I refer to Qantas Airways Limited’s ASX announcement dated 6 September 2012 of a new global partnership with Emirates and the proposed change of Qantas’ hub for European flights from Singapore to Dubai, UAE in April 2013.
I also refer to recent media reports of the arrest and summary imprisonment of Professor Cyril Karabus, a 78 year old internationally respected doctor specialising in paediatrics and medical oncology who headed the oncology and haematology unit at the South African Red Cross Children’s Hospital.
Ten years ago, while working on a short term contract at the Sheikh Khalifa Medical Centre in Abu Dhabi in the UAE, Professor Karabus treated a three-year-old cancer patient who later died of leukaemia. Professor Karabus later returned to his home in South Africa and continued his medical practice there.
At some point after Professor Karabus’s departure from the UAE, without any notice to Professor Karabus, the UAE authorities decided to charge, try and convict Professor Karabus of manslaughter in absentia without his knowledge and without any opportunity for him to present his case. On 18 August 2012 it arrested him while
he was in transit in Dubai airport flying from Canada to South Africa returning from his son’s wedding.
 See: dhabi-1.1389043#.UGq9sbTB-Dp
This case illustrates an important risk to Qantas passenger safety which appears to have been overlooked in Qantas’s decision to hub through Dubai rather than Singapore.
The UAE is a country that does not maintain the basic standards of Rule of Law that citizens of western countries like Australia take for granted.
Many activities which are both legal and common practice in Australia are serious crimes in the UAE. In particular in the UAE, it is illegal:

a) for a man and a woman to have consensual sex outside marriage;

b) to purchase or consume of alcohol without a personal liquor licence (which are not obtainable by tourists)

c) for two men to have consensual sex in any circumstances.
This risk is not merely theoretical. I refer to the following additional cases:
.    1)  An Australian woman was gaoled for adultery in the UAE after reporting her rape 
to the UAE police. See:
.    2)  A British man & woman were arrested for having allegedly having sex in a taxi. See: 
.    3)  Two Australian businessmen gaoled on trumped up fraud charges in Dubai.
I note that Senator Helen Kroger has recently also issued similar warning regarding Qantas’s proposed hub change to Dubai. See worldnews/australiaandthepacific/australia/9554817/Australians-warned-of-false- arrest-in-Dubai-over-Qantas-tie-up.html
Moreover the Prof. Karabus case and the ordeal of the Australian man, Sun McKay, referred to in the above article highlight that this risk extends to transit passengers.
Under Australian law, Qantas has a duty of care to provide a safe environment for its passengers, including while they are in transit to their ultimate destination. This extends to risks to personal safety, life and liberty from legal systems which do not conform to western standards and where passengers may innocently and ignorantly commit serious crimes by behaviour which is legal and commonplace in Australia.
Equally, Qantas has an obligation to not engage in misleading and deceptive conduct by silence as to the risks of transiting via the UAE. Unlike the situation where a
passenger actively chooses to go to a country where western standards of rule of law are not followed, Australian citizens traveling on the Australian national airline to a European destination have a reasonable expectation that they will be subject to western standards of rule of law their entire trip.
Furthermore, any general marketing and branding of the UAE as a modern, sophisticated, western style destination will itself be misleading and deceptive if it fails to draw attention to the very un-western system of laws and a justice system that does not respect basic human rights.
I am hereby putting Qantas on formal notice regarding these issues.
Qantas must not proceed with its announced plans to hub through Dubai without either:

a) eliminating the risk of its passengers transiting through Dubai being arrested or harassed by UAE authorities; or

b) providing prominent, ongoing and explicit warnings to prospective passengers of those risks.

A failure to heed this warning may lead to legal action by actual or potential Qantas customers.

I will also be writing to relevant regulatory authorities highlighting these issues.

Yours sincerely,

Andrew Hamilton Solicitor, NSW

Liability limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation


16 Responses to “Qantas warned about Dubai”
  1. Lou says:

    There should be a very visible notification on a ticket, print out , invoice anything containing advertising for Quantas/Emirates that hubbing /transiting in Dubai or any Sharia based country cannot have expectations for safety re standards of a democratic country.
    Why do airlines want to risk the safety of passengers by not fully warning them, as this is the duty of care for such airlines who will fly through such territories. Passengers take note, avoid these airlines at all costs.
    Hit them where it hurts, in their pockets.
    Do not fly with them..

  2. Lou says:

    There should be a very visible notification on a ticket, print out , invoice anything containing advertising for Quantas/Emirates that hubbing /transiting in Dubai or any Sharia based country cannot have expectations for safety re standards of a democratic country.
    Why do airlines want to risk the safety of passengers by not fully warning them, as this is the duty of care for such airlines who will fly through such territories. Passengers take note, AVOID THESE AIRLINES AT ALL COSTS.EVEN IF THE TICKET IF FREE. YOUR FREEDOM CANNOT BE MEASURED BY SAVING A FEW DOLLARS, POUNDS!

  3. Jenny says:

    Not long ago I visited Dubai in transit to Greece. I was wearing a knee length short sleeved dress. Whilst looking at the shops in the gold mile, I felt stones on my back and realised that I was the target of some angry men on the opposite side of the road. I quickly left the area and got a taxi back to the airport. I was told later that although my dress code would be considered modest for a Western country was simply not suitable for Dubai. There is no way I would stop there again.

  4. Otto Waldmann says:

    On the other hand, ( I can’t believe I am going to say this ) let’s see if this combination will not bring Dubai, UAE, closer to the Western ethics, at least through the business venue !!! After all we have seen that another “anomaly”, US military bases, are functioning on some of the same territories seemingly unperturbed by the same religious and political stringencies.
    On the other other hand, should anything occur as predicted by all on these posts, then Mr. Qantas will have a lot to answer for, oil-money ot not.

  5. michael says:

    Kol Ha Kavod to Andrew { AKIVA] Hamiliton who works with Nitsana Darshan Leitner’s Shurat Ha Din /Israel Law center.
    Israel’s only Jewish Israeli Human Rights Organization

  6. Peter says:

    If I want for example to fly to Paris or Rome with Qantas I would be required to transfer to an Emirates flight from Dubai. Emirates is basically a cut price airline from a country with limited technical expertise – no way. If I travel Qantas I expect Qantas standards.

    If I want a stopover to make the flight easier I certainly don’t want a big Surfers Paradise experience without the human rights standards we expect. Only a fool would trust the UAE.

    Qantas is going way down market. If the management puts its passengers into the trust of a UAE what does that suggests about its new attitude to safety.

    A suggestion, an alliance with El Al with a Jerusalem stopover would have much more appeal to Christian Australia and team up with an airline with the same safety capabilities.

    • Oliver says:

      Are you kidding??

      Emirates is basically a cut price airline from a country with limited technical expertise – no way. If I travel Qantas I expect Qantas standards.?????

      Emirates is one of the most technologically advanced airlines in the world and the UAE has some of the most advanced airport/aeronautical technologgy in the world. You will find that Dnata, who is the airport handling operator at Dubai airpoirt is also the airport handling company at many US, UK, European, Middle Eastern and Asian airports.

      I dunno if you’ve ever flown with El Al, but you need to raise your standards and open your eyes.

      And this is coming from a Christian Australian in the UAE.

      • Peter says:

        Buying fancy technology is not the equivalent of being able to use or maintain it. I assure you as an electrical engineer with some experience that Australia has a highly sophisticated technical capability with exports in the very hi-tech area. No Arab country can show anything like this capability which is why so many of their citizens study in Australian Universities. I am not aware of Australians going to Dubai to study engineering or science. Boeing Australia for example exports complete aircraft sections to Boeing and Airbus with detailed design being done in this country. Qantas would claim to have checked out Emirates but our national airline is now being run by pure business men not technical people as formerly. Money not safety is becoming their chief concern, I have this through contacts in the airline.

    • Noelene says:

      This is a belated response I know but I have just read what Peter had to say about Emirates being a cut price airline and felt I had to respond.
      I wonder where Peter sourced his info? I hope that in the few months since the post that he has taken the time to find the true facts about the Emirates airline and the technical/aeronautical expertise in UAE.

  7. RaoulM says:

    The moment you step aboard a vessel flagged to an OIC country or fiefdom, you are legally under the code of law of this national entity. In case of OIC member countries like the UAE, this law is the Koran and the sharia. Make no mistake to think otherwise. In OIC member countries the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is replaced by the Cairo Declaration, which makes any law and human rights subject to the Koran and the sharia, as interpreted by the local sharia council. And it’s typically not gay and lesbian human rights lawyers from Kew or Kensington sitting on these sharia councils

    To not just code-share, but indeed buddy up with one of those flying carpet airlines, re-route flights through their territory, and perhaps unload unknowing passengers to connecting flights aboard sharia-flagged vessels, this is beyond the pale. As far as I am concerned, and every associate I speak to about Alan Joyce’s flying camelroo, we would never set foot aboard a sharia flagged vessel. The Spirit of Australia now lives on in our memory.

  8. Liat Nagar says:

    Sounds like a dangerous situation to me. Qantas have applied tunnel vision to this decision. Qantas has gone downhill since Alan Joyce became CEO; they should get rid of him.

  9. EthanP says:

    We have seen, time and again, that MONEY trumps justice. Here in the USA public relations firms are not just dropping Israel and Israeli firms as clients, but businesses owned by Jews as well. Just too much Arab oil money.

  10. Anne says:

    Please sign this petition to secure the release of Emeritus Professor Cyril Karabus, a renowned academic and dedicated paediatric oncologist, unjustly imprisoned in Dubai. Professor Karabus has a heart condition and his family is understandably deeply concerned for his welfare. The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cape Town, Dr Max Price, has said “It would not be an exaggeration to say that thousands of families have expressed gratitude to him for his tireless care of their children. He is known and respected for his high standards of clinical care and his personal integrity.”

  11. Vicki says:

    I flew El Al on a recent trip to Israel. It was bad enough flying through Bangkok. During transit, I was death-stared when I asked where the El Al counter was. There is no chance at all that I would fly through Dubai. And that goes for transiting anywhere – I proudly ask Immigration at Ben Gurion to stamp my passport. I don’t accept Qantas’s assurances of non-harassment in Dubai if you have Israeli entry stamps in your passport.

  12. Kevin says:

    Simple solution. Dont fly Qantas!

  13. Ellen says:

    Would various anti-discrimination acts apply to a situation where an Australian company is knowingly sending passengers through a place that breaches those laws as an integral part of its operations?

    I’ll stick to flying SQ, especially after this move.

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