Elderly American Professor Arrested For Taking Picture Of Sign Prohibiting Photography In The United Arab Emirates

1907858_713976835361012_7424677237227212493_nDr. Alan Black, an American professor, was arrested last month for taking a picture of a sign banning photography. That act could send him to jail for five years. Various sites have been created to rally support for Roberts who is facing an absurdly harsh legal system and a rule against photography that can only be described as pathological.

Black was detained without a charge after he stopped and took the picture in the capital of the UAE. The case has highlighted the brutal conditions and lack of due process in the UAE. Black has been allowed no representation and was held in secret. He was allowed only two brief calls and, despite international obligations, it took two days before the UAE (or erstwhile ally) notified the American embassy of his arrest.

Black is reportedly an avid photographer and nothing more than that. One of his last pictures below was captioned “walking the streets of Abu Dhabi.” He was arrested the next day.


Despite our continued support for the UAE, our State Department in 2013 denounced the country for “arbitrary arrests, incommunicado detentions, and lengthy pretrial detentions” as well as “police and prison guard brutality.” The Black case shows vividly that such criticism is, if anything, understated.

Black was lecturing at a conference in the city and should have shown greater judgment. However, the response from the UAE is draconian and absurd.

Under article 168 of the UAE Penal Code, anyone caught taking pictures of palaces, embassies and security facilities can be sentenced to up to five years in jail and subject to a large fine. Three years ago, a tourist was given a month in jail for simply taking photos of the presidential palace.

Putting aside the law itself, the abuse of basic due process rights in the UAE belies its assertion that it is a modern and developing nation. Black is an elderly professor with a penchant for photography and a lack of inhibitions. If the UAE cannot see that, it is engaging in willful blindness.


Source: Daily Mail

76 thoughts on “Elderly American Professor Arrested For Taking Picture Of Sign Prohibiting Photography In The United Arab Emirates”

  1. You in America are so tied to oil that you can not go get one of your own citizens from a pirate town.

  2. “Fascinating to watch. People w/ multiple degrees talking nonsense.”
    = = =

    It is fascinating.
    To the less intelligent, it often does sound like nonsense.

    1. Mark Ewbanks – I am a culture whore. When I travel I want to see anything they have that has any attachment to culture at all. I only use my camera when it is appropriate and ask first. I almost got arrested in a museum, which was my lesson. 🙂

  3. Had the right wingers not tromped on the drones and left wingers yesterday, we who like to take pictures of the sights we see when traveling may be facing the same fate as the Dumb cluck in Arab land. Potus sure does not do well eating crow and may in fact act like a spoiled child. Get ready for the fireworks created by an arrogant person who cannot accept the fact that his subjects have truly had enough and reject his policies. There is no limit to what he will pull to continue his destructive agenda.

    Can’t say I would ever want to go to a country that considers women nothing more than chattel. If Potus has his way, as uber king, we certainly will lose more of our freedom here.

  4. Try taking pictures on the steps of the U.S. Capitol and see where that lands you. Or since the GOP is in Control maybe US Capital is more appropriate.

  5. This is only a matter of degree and not kind in the U.S. where anyone taking pictures of governmental buildings, or documenting the environmental damage of oil refineries is harassed and threatened with prosecution. Photogographyisnotacrime does an excellent job documenting these abuses. So while the UAE is horrible, it is bad enough for free speech/press rights in our own nation.

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