The United Arab Emirates has issued a travel warning advising citizens against wearing traditional dress while abroad, following the brief arrest of Ahmed al-Menhali in Ohio.

Mr Menhali was wearing a kandura, a traditional white robe, and talking on a mobile phone in the lobby of the Fairfield Inn and Suites in Avon, where he had been trying to book a room. The sister of the hotel clerk called the police and claimed he was pledging allegiance to Daesh. Police arrived, pushed him to the ground and searched him. He was released after ten minutes when it became clear that a mistake had been made.

Mr Menhali was in the area for medical treatment. He collapsed shortly after the incident and was taken to hospital. The Ambassador for the UAE has complained about his treatment to a senior State Department official.

From the New York Times

Emirates Warn Against Traditional Clothing Abroad After Man Is Mistaken for Terrorist in Ohio

The United Arab Emirates warned its citizens on Sunday to avoid wearing traditional clothing when traveling abroad, apparently in response to an episode in Ohio last week in which a businessman from Abu Dhabi, dressed in robes and a head scarf, was confronted by the police at gunpoint because a hotel clerk thought he might be a terrorist.

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From NPR

Emirates Advises Citizens Not To Wear Traditional Dress While Traveling

The tweet advises UAE citizens to avoid wearing Emirati national dress while traveling abroad, and particularly in public places, “in order to preserve their safety.” It came from an official government Twitter account used to provide advice to Emiratis traveling abroad.

A separate statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs “urged women to abide by bans on face veils in parts of Europe,” as Reuters reported.

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NPR has a clip from a local radio show, discussing the arrest and the Mayor’s response. Please click through here to listen and to read the transcript.


From Al Jazeera

UAE protests US arrest of Emirati national in Ohio

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From the Washington Post

UAE warns travelers not to wear traditional dress after Emirati visitor is arrested in Ohio

A police video posted by a Cleveland TV channel showed an officer loading his rifle and running toward Menhali, while others shouted at him and held him down, according to Al Jazeera. He collapsed at one point, apparently feeling ill, and emergency workers took him to a hospital. He had previously suffered a stroke and was not armed.

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From ABC News

Ohio mayor apologises to UAE man over wrongful terrorism arrest

According to Avon Mayor Bryan Jensen and Julia Shearson, head of the local branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the emergency calls were placed by relatives of a female clerk at the hotel who was unnerved by his appearance.

“We came to find out that those statements were never heard by anyone, the statements were never said,” Mr Jensen said.

“A person who makes a false accusation like that endangers not only the person that they are making them about but [also] it frustrates us and angers us that we’re going into a situation that puts our police officers in a position they would never want to be in.”

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From the Washington Post

UAE ambassador complains to State Department over treatment of Emirati in Ohio

“On behalf of the UAE, I conveyed deep dismay and concern to the U.S. Government over the mistreatment of Ahmed Al Menhali, a UAE national,” Ambassador Yousef al-Otaiba said in a statement after he met with Susan Ziadeh, the acting assistant secretary for Near Eastern affairs.

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From the National

‘They were brutal with me’ Emirati describes arrest in US after being mistaken for ISIL member

“They were brutal with me,” said Ahmed Al Menhali, 41, who was dressed in traditional clothes when he was arrested on Wednesday in Avon, Ohio. “They pressed forcefully on my back. I had several injuries and bled from the forceful nature of their arrest.

“I didn’t think they were there for me. I assumed there was some sort of training exercise or event at the hotel but I was shocked to see them barge at me.”

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