Working in RAK was a real challenge

RAS AL KHAIMAH — He is one of the founders of the modern legal and judicial system that has been adopted in the post-oil era in RAK emirate.


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Published: Sat 13 May 2006, 11:09 AM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 7:39 PM

“When I came here in 1971 there was neither any legal system nor legislation to cope with the great leap that took place in the emirate following the discovery and exploitation of oil in the region,” Khalid Safarini, Legal Adviser to His Highness Shaikh Saqr bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah, told Khaleej Times.

“I considered working in RAK as a real challenge and a noble mission since the emirate was lacking modern legal and legislative system,” he recalled.

Safarini used to draft law bills to be endorsed by Shaikh Saqr, some of which are still in use in the emirate. “We used to issue new legislations to keep pace with the new social and economic developments that arise in the emirate,” he said.

Among so many legislations, Shaikh Saqr endorsed at that time was the Criminal Procedures and Criminal Punishment laws. “RAK was the first emirate to issue mandatory car insurance law,” Safarini pointed out.

Besides working as legal adviser to the Ruler, Safarini was appointed as the head of the Judiciary Department.

"I was the first civil judge in the emirate because the emirate at that time only had one Islamic law judge to apply the Shariah,” he added.

From his position as the head of the Judiciary Department, Safarini started hiring more civil judges from different Arab nationalities. “Due to the increasing workload we established the first Appeals Court and General Prosecution Department in 1973,” he added.

“The emirate's civil court was located in a small room in Al Husin, the current RAK National Museum, and we shifted it to four hired apartments in a building located on Shaikh Faisal Road, to the north of the branch of RAK National Bank,” he said. Work on the emirate's current court, located near RAK Educational Zone and Shaikh Zayed Mosque, was started in 1978 and finished in 1979, he added.

As for the type of cases they used to encounter, he said: “Most of the cases were of traffic accidents besides other civil disputes.”

He recalled that the most complicated case he looked into was of an Indian engineer who was convicted of manslaughter.

“The man was trying to resolve a dispute that ensued between two labourers who were working under him, for a little over Dh300, when he grabbed one of them by his neck and he suddenly died,” he added. The defendant was sentenced to 10-year imprisonment followed by deportation.

“After completing four years in prison he wrote a letter of appeal in a very good handwriting and refined English, addressed to Shaikh Saqr to grant him amnesty on the ground that he was trying to keep the reputation of the fellow Indian workers,” Safarini added.

Shaikh Saqr ordered him to be released and deported to his home country.

Safarini quit his job as head of the RAK Judiciary Department in 2000.

Safarini, who has five sons, three doctors and two engineers, recalled: "In the late 1960s and early 1970s, RAK city was a very small town without proper road network. There was no power and water supply or phone lines. It had only around 300 cars. There was no movie house and we used to watch Dubai TV in black and white,” he added.

The legal adviser also described the number of expatriate people at that time as “very limited with most of them working as teachers and doctors”.

During his work with the Saudi company Aramco, Safarini was assigned by company's administration to accompany Indian leader Jawaharlal Nehru during the latter's visit to its facilities in the 1960s. This led to his undertaking the translation of Nehru's book titled Glimpses of World History.

“My fascination with the refined language of this great world leader was the prime force behind translating this book,” he added.

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