Dr Robert Black, 70, the American in Al Wathba Prison after being arrested last month for taking photos in an area deemed off-limits by authorities. Rosemary Rein / AP Photos
Dr Robert Black, 70, the American in Al Wathba Prison after being arrested last month for taking photos in an area deemed off-limits by authorities. Rosemary Rein / AP Photos

Friends and family rally around American arrested for taking photos in Abu Dhabi



ABU DHABI // Friends, family and supporters of a 70-year-old American who was arrested last month for allegedly taking photos of a restricted area, have raised almost Dh45,000 for his legal fees.

On Wednesday, a crowd-funding campaign was launched for Dr Robert Black with the money going to his legal representatives.

“Alan’s family, friends and creativity organisations raised and wired Dh44,000 for cash available for legal representation,” said his friend, Rosemary Rein.

“We have just signed a contract for legal representation to represent him and will provide more information once the attorney has the opportunity to speak with him.”

Dr Black’s daughter, Jessica, had borrowed against her house to help to pay the legal retainer, which she was told would be between Dh36,700 and Dh147,000.

Ms Rein said the family was told by the US embassy that the case had been referred to State Security Services.

“We will soon launch a more expanded and accessible site where community members can contribute to any continued legal expenses if needed,” she said.

“We continue to offer our apology to the UAE for any infraction caused by Alan’s enthusiasm for capturing his daily walks with his camera.”

Ms Rein said Dr Black was able to speak to his son, Scott, and was glad to hear of the global support from the Creative Thinkers, the annual conference in Abu Dhabi in which he took part before his October 21 arrest.

“Alan now has a phone card to call his family,” she said. “We have no details or confirmation on what he may have photographed, which has resulted in his detainment.

“We only know of his interest in buildings, architecture and documenting his daily walks.”

Jessica asked the embassy to deliver notes to her father and drawings from his grandchildren.

“We are hoping this provides Alan with much-needed comfort and emotional support,” Ms Rein said.

“Scott reports that his dad appeared in good spirits at finally being able to talk to his son and learn of the overwhelming love by so many around the world.”

Theresa Daum, a teacher at the American Community School in Abu Dhabi, said she planned to visit Dr Black at Al Wathba prison.

“I’m waiting for approval,” Ms Daum said. “But I’ve submitted my name, a short questionnaire and heard back that they’re going to approve it.

“So as soon as they do, I’m going to go down there and if I’m not allowed then my husband will.”

Mrs Daum, from the US, said she felt a connection to Dr Black.

“I have a mutual friend with his daughter,” she said.

“I know he is a legitimate, innocent man who just wasn’t aware of the rules and I feel like maybe he’s fallen through the cracks because he’s here alone and has no attorney.”

Mrs Daum said Dr Black’s age and his diabetes were of concern.

“His family is very worried,” she said. “He must have felt very lonely and although he seems like a strong, well-travelled individual, I doubt [he’s visited] jail where it can be depressing, especially in a foreign country.

“I’m pretty upset that this has happened because there were no posted signs as far as I knew. I’m worried he’s going to be here for a while and his health could be undermined.”

Radha Stirling, founder of British group Detained in Dubai, also expressed concern.

“We call on the UAE Government to take into account Dr Black’s age and cultural background regarding his photography,” she said.

cmalek@thenational.ae

Tips to keep your car cool
  • Place a sun reflector in your windshield when not driving
  • Park in shaded or covered areas
  • Add tint to windows
  • Wrap your car to change the exterior colour
  • Pick light interiors - choose colours such as beige and cream for seats and dashboard furniture
  • Avoid leather interiors as these absorb more heat
Company profile

Name: Tabby
Founded: August 2019; platform went live in February 2020
Founder/CEO: Hosam Arab, co-founder: Daniil Barkalov
Based: Dubai, UAE
Sector: Payments
Size: 40-50 employees
Stage: Series A
Investors: Arbor Ventures, Mubadala Capital, Wamda Capital, STV, Raed Ventures, Global Founders Capital, JIMCO, Global Ventures, Venture Souq, Outliers VC, MSA Capital, HOF and AB Accelerator.

Electric scooters: some rules to remember
  • Riders must be 14-years-old or over
  • Wear a protective helmet
  • Park the electric scooter in designated parking lots (if any)
  • Do not leave electric scooter in locations that obstruct traffic or pedestrians
  • Solo riders only, no passengers allowed
  • Do not drive outside designated lanes
Keane on …

Liverpool’s Uefa Champions League bid: “They’re great. With the attacking force they have, for me, they’re certainly one of the favourites. You look at the teams left in it - they’re capable of scoring against anybody at any given time. Defensively they’ve been good, so I don’t see any reason why they couldn’t go on and win it.”

Mohamed Salah’s debut campaign at Anfield: “Unbelievable. He’s been phenomenal. You can name the front three, but for him on a personal level, he’s been unreal. He’s been great to watch and hopefully he can continue now until the end of the season - which I’m sure he will, because he’s been in fine form. He’s been incredible this season.”

Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s instant impact at former club LA Galaxy: “Brilliant. It’s been a great start for him and for the club. They were crying out for another big name there. They were lacking that, for the prestige of LA Galaxy. And now they have one of the finest stars. I hope they can go win something this year.”

‘FSO Safer’ - a ticking bomb

The Safer has been moored off the Yemeni coast of Ras Issa since 1988.
The Houthis have been blockading UN efforts to inspect and maintain the vessel since 2015, when the war between the group and the Yemen government, backed by the Saudi-led coalition began.
Since then, a handful of people acting as a skeleton crew, have performed rudimentary maintenance work to keep the Safer intact.
The Safer is connected to a pipeline from the oil-rich city of Marib, and was once a hub for the storage and export of crude oil.

The Safer’s environmental and humanitarian impact may extend well beyond Yemen, experts believe, into the surrounding waters of Saudi Arabia, Djibouti and Eritrea, impacting marine-life and vital infrastructure like desalination plans and fishing ports. 

A QUIET PLACE

Starring: Lupita Nyong'o, Joseph Quinn, Djimon Hounsou

Director: Michael Sarnoski

Rating: 4/5

Confirmed bouts (more to be added)

Cory Sandhagen v Umar Nurmagomedov
Nick Diaz v Vicente Luque
Michael Chiesa v Tony Ferguson
Deiveson Figueiredo v Marlon Vera
Mackenzie Dern v Loopy Godinez

Tickets for the August 3 Fight Night, held in partnership with the Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi, went on sale earlier this month, through www.etihadarena.ae and www.ticketmaster.ae.

The five pillars of Islam

1. Fasting

2. Prayer

3. Hajj

4. Shahada

5. Zakat 

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: OneOrder
Started: March 2022
Founders: Tamer Amer and Karim Maurice
Based: Cairo
Number of staff: 82
Investment stage: Series A

Kill

Director: Nikhil Nagesh Bhat

Starring: Lakshya, Tanya Maniktala, Ashish Vidyarthi, Harsh Chhaya, Raghav Juyal

Rating: 4.5/5

J Street Polling Results

97% of Jewish-Americans are concerned about the rise in anti-Semitism

76% of US Jewish voters believe Donald Trump and his allies in the Republican Party are responsible for a rise in anti-Semitism

74% of American Jews agreed that “Trump and the Maga movement are a threat to Jews in America"

School counsellors on mental well-being

Schools counsellors in Abu Dhabi have put a number of provisions in place to help support pupils returning to the classroom next week.

Many children will resume in-person lessons for the first time in 10 months and parents previously raised concerns about the long-term effects of distance learning.

Schools leaders and counsellors said extra support will be offered to anyone that needs it. Additionally, heads of years will be on hand to offer advice or coping mechanisms to ease any concerns.

“Anxiety this time round has really spiralled, more so than from the first lockdown at the beginning of the pandemic,” said Priya Mitchell, counsellor at The British School Al Khubairat in Abu Dhabi.

“Some have got used to being at home don’t want to go back, while others are desperate to get back.

“We have seen an increase in depressive symptoms, especially with older pupils, and self-harm is starting younger.

“It is worrying and has taught us how important it is that we prioritise mental well-being.”

Ms Mitchell said she was liaising more with heads of year so they can support and offer advice to pupils if the demand is there.

The school will also carry out mental well-being checks so they can pick up on any behavioural patterns and put interventions in place to help pupils.

At Raha International School, the well-being team has provided parents with assessment surveys to see how they can support students at home to transition back to school.

“They have created a Well-being Resource Bank that parents have access to on information on various domains of mental health for students and families,” a team member said.

“Our pastoral team have been working with students to help ease the transition and reduce anxiety that [pupils] may experience after some have been nearly a year off campus.

"Special secondary tutorial classes have also focused on preparing students for their return; going over new guidelines, expectations and daily schedules.”

How to wear a kandura

Dos

  • Wear the right fabric for the right season and occasion 
  • Always ask for the dress code if you don’t know
  • Wear a white kandura, white ghutra / shemagh (headwear) and black shoes for work 
  • Wear 100 per cent cotton under the kandura as most fabrics are polyester

Don’ts 

  • Wear hamdania for work, always wear a ghutra and agal 
  • Buy a kandura only based on how it feels; ask questions about the fabric and understand what you are buying
Sun jukebox

Rufus Thomas, Bear Cat (The Answer to Hound Dog) (1953)

This rip-off of Leiber/Stoller’s early rock stomper brought a lawsuit against Phillips and necessitated Presley’s premature sale to RCA.

Elvis Presley, Mystery Train (1955)

The B-side of Presley’s final single for Sun bops with a drummer-less groove.

Johnny Cash and the Tennessee Two, Folsom Prison Blues (1955)

Originally recorded for Sun, Cash’s signature tune was performed for inmates of the titular prison 13 years later.

Carl Perkins, Blue Suede Shoes (1956)

Within a month of Sun’s February release Elvis had his version out on RCA.

Roy Orbison, Ooby Dooby (1956)

An essential piece of irreverent juvenilia from Orbison.

Jerry Lee Lewis, Great Balls of Fire (1957)

Lee’s trademark anthem is one of the era’s best-remembered – and best-selling – songs.

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Klipit

Started: 2022

Founders: Venkat Reddy, Mohammed Al Bulooki, Bilal Merchant, Asif Ahmed, Ovais Merchant

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Digital receipts, finance, blockchain

Funding: $4 million

Investors: Privately/self-funded

Visit Abu Dhabi culinary team's top Emirati restaurants in Abu Dhabi

Yadoo’s House Restaurant+& Cafe

For the karak and Yoodo's house platter with includes eggs, balaleet, khamir and chebab bread.

Golden Dallah

For the cappuccino, luqaimat and aseeda.

Al Mrzab Restaurant

For the shrimp murabian and Kuwaiti options including Kuwaiti machboos with kebab and spicy sauce.

Al Derwaza

For the fish hubul, regag bread, biryani and special seafood soup. 

Other must-tries

Tomato and walnut salad

A lesson in simple, seasonal eating. Wedges of tomato, chunks of cucumber, thinly sliced red onion, coriander or parsley leaves, and perhaps some fresh dill are drizzled with a crushed walnut and garlic dressing. Do consider yourself warned: if you eat this salad in Georgia during the summer months, the tomatoes will be so ripe and flavourful that every tomato you eat from that day forth will taste lacklustre in comparison.

Badrijani nigvzit

A delicious vegetarian snack or starter. It consists of thinly sliced, fried then cooled aubergine smothered with a thick and creamy walnut sauce and folded or rolled. Take note, even though it seems like you should be able to pick these morsels up with your hands, they’re not as durable as they look. A knife and fork is the way to go.

Pkhali

This healthy little dish (a nice antidote to the khachapuri) is usually made with steamed then chopped cabbage, spinach, beetroot or green beans, combined with walnuts, garlic and herbs to make a vegetable pâté or paste. The mix is then often formed into rounds, chilled in the fridge and topped with pomegranate seeds before being served.

Sarfira

Director: Sudha Kongara Prasad

Starring: Akshay Kumar, Radhika Madan, Paresh Rawal

Rating: 2/5


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