DUBAI // A government official has been arrested after video footage of an assault on an Asian driver became an internet sensation on YouTube.
The video, which shows an Emirati man beating the driver with his agal and punching him until a bystander steps in to stop the assault, circulated on social-media networks yesterday.
The Emirati community has expressed outrage and shock. The video link was shared on WhatsApp with the message: “This is not right! Shame on you! Shame on you!”
“This is so bad,” said Emirati Umm Shaima. “How can someone behave like this, and in the middle of Ramadan, too.”
During the holy month, a word uttered in anger is considered breaking the fast.
“I have mixed feelings about this video,” said Ali Murad. “I’m happy that this person’s actions were exposed and he was made to answer for his horrible behaviour.
“On the other hand, he has also brought shame to us all. People will see this video and use it to stereotype Arabs and Emiratis as heartless, racist snobs.”
Salem Saeed said: “Some say that it could be because he is a smoker who is fasting and his temper got the better of him, but this is not an excuse. It would have been less of a sin to break your fast with a cigarette than to behave like that.”
Dubai Police responded quickly after the video began circulating on Monday evening and 40 complaints were filed to the force’s Twitter account.
The tweets caught the attention of high-profile figures such as the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, the UAE University political science professor Dr Abdel Khaleq Abdullah, and other figures in the country who also tweeted their dismay.
By this morning, an Emirati man had been arrested in connection with the attack, said Maj Gen Khamis Mattar Al Mazeina, deputy chief of Dubai Police.
Gen Al Mazeina said the actions shown in the video were not representative of the UAE’s culture and tradition, and that despite the alleged attacker being a government official, “no one is above the law”.
The dispute seen on the film was triggered by a minor accident, according to Gen Al Mazeina, who called the official’s manner “inappropriate”.
A case has been registered against the man, he said, and further investigations will be held today by public prosecutors.
Many voiced their appreciation for the police’s swift action in handling this matter.
“This shows that we do not tolerate such shameful behaviour,” said Mariam Nasser. “I just hope that news of his arrest spreads as wide and as fast as the video did.”
Under Article 339 of the UAE penal code, assault that does not result in serious injury carries a maximum sentence of one year in prison and a fine of up to Dh10,000.
Road rage and incidents of reckless or aggressive driving are things Dubai Police have been trying to solve for years.
In May 2010, Lt Gen Mohammed Saif Al Zafein, director of the General Department of Traffic, saw a Lexus driving from Al Garhoud to Al Ittihad Road towards Sharjah bullying other cars and driving recklessly.
Gen Al Zafein chased the car and the female Emirati driver was fined and had her vehicle confiscated.
Reckless driving carries a Dh2,000 fine, 12 black points on the licence and a 30-day vehicle confiscation.
This year, Dubai’s top traffic prosecutor called for tough new laws to punish bad drivers.
“Existing laws do not allow judges to impose sentences that match the severity of the crime,” said Salah Bu Farousha, head of Dubai Traffic Public Prosecution.
* With additional reporting by Salam Al Amir