‘Ask Ali’ writer says he was called a terrorist by hotel staff in Dubai

‘Ask Ali’ writer says he was called a terrorist by hotel staff in Dubai

Emirati blogger and Internet personality calls for educating hotel staff about UAE culture after he was called “terrorist” by a manager at the Sofitel hotel in Palm Jumeirah.

By Bernd Debusmann Jr./senior Reporter

Published: Tue 16 Jun 2015, 12:12 AM

Last updated: Wed 8 Jul 2015, 3:09 PM

Dubai - A well-known Emirati blogger and Internet personality alleged he was called a “terrorist” by a manager at the Sofitel hotel in Palm Jumeirah.

On his Twitter account, Ali bin Saloom — who writes the popular “Ask Ali” column in The National — said the incident took place on June 12 after having lodged a complaint to staff following a booking error.

According to bin Saloom’s tweets, the manager called him a “terrorist” and threatened to call the police, saying that he didn’t “need a guest like him in my hotel”.

“Really shocked & surprised on how such a behaviour came from a manager @SofitelDXBPalm. What a shame! Really disappointed,” bin Saloom tweeted the day of the incident. “So according to @SofitelDXBPalm manager if you booked n they screwd up n u complained then ur a terrorist (sic).”

Additionally, bin Saloom alleged that he was pushed in the shoulder during the incident, and recommended that those employed by hotels or restaurants in the UAE be educated about the country’s culture.

The following day, on June 13, bin Saloom tweeted that he was checking out of the hotel because of “manager attitude and manners”.

Talking over the phone to Khaleej Times, bin Saloom confirmed the incident took place but declined to go into more details until he discusses the matter with his attorney.

In another June 13 tweet, bin Saloom said he was being asked to take legal action against Sofitel, but was holding back for the moment “as long as I get an official apology”.

Dr. Jamal Hussein Al Sumaiti, Director-General of Dubai Judicial Institute, said calling someone a terrorist very likely constitutes a violation of UAE laws. “Our criminal law considers this a crime. It’s a crime because it’s insulting. In our law, it’s the same as calling someone an idiot.

“This is a misdemeanour that could result in a fine of not more than Dh10,000, or anywhere from a month to not more than three years (in jail).”

Dubai-based attorney Ashish Mehta said the availability of witnesses is important in such cases. “It is important if there were witnesses. But such a thing would be libel, slander. The law has provisions for imprisonment.”

Responding to queries from KT, Sofitel said it does not disclose information about guests. In a June 13 tweet, it said that “Sofitel the Palm met with @AskAli. The matter is being dealt with directly. We sincerely apologise to @AskAli for this unfortunate situation”.


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