Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large

Criminal networks nipped in the bud

Drugs, prostitution, human trafficking, loan sharking, murder: organised crime is a plague, and we depend upon the police to keep it out of our lives.

Organised crime, a scourge in many countries around the world, has not been high on the list of the UAE's problems. In a relatively safe society, most people enjoy considerable freedom from worries about serious crime. But that freedom should not be taken for granted.

There are few details about the size and operations of criminal gangs in the UAE - and few indications that organised crime has become a pervasive problem. But Indian community organisations in Dubai are growing increasingly concerned about illicit and menacing moneylending groups, as The National reported yesterday.

The so-called "blade mafia" is not genteel in its operating methods. Charging high interest is just the beginning: these people demand that borrowers hand over their passports or other important documents as security, and can quickly become violent if payments are slow.

Indian community self-help groups, the Indian consulate and others familiar with the situation are linking the activities of such operators to a worrisome surge in suicide - 67 Indians have died by their own hands in Dubai and the Northern Emirates this year, many of them middle-class men with white collar jobs, weighed down by debt.

The lure of easy credit from legitimate sources - credit cards or bank loans - has led many families into trouble, in the UAE and around the world. But the situation becomes much worse for those unwary, unlucky or desperate enough to borrow from ruthless criminals.

To be sure, a tough-guy moneylender with a bankroll and a couple of enforcers does not qualify as organised crime on the scale of Mexican drug gangs, the Italian Mafia or international Asian gangs. But so far the extent of this problem is not entirely clear.

And where one illicit enterprise succeeds, another may follow. Some kinds of crime involve complex trans-border coordination: human trafficking for one, drug smuggling for another. And cases of both often reach the courts. Another alarm bell was the case last spring in which nine men were convicted of stabbing a brothel client to death. Clearly, prostitution rings are another troubling form of criminal activity.

Cases like that one lead to hard questions about the inroads of crime networks into society. The UAE is lucky to be relatively free of serious crime; we depend on the police - and the public - to keep it that way.

Back to the top

More articles

Editor's Picks

 An tenant in the Al Barsha area of Dubai has been sent a non-renewable contract by the landlord. Randi Sokoloff / The National

Dubai landlord refuses to pay back Rera fees after losing rent case

Keren Bobker helps a tenant who wants to know how to reclaim his RERA case fees and who has also been sent a contract with a “one-year nonrenewable” note.

 A customer looks at a large mock-up of videogame console Game Boy.  Yoshikazu Tsuno / AFP Photo

Nintendo’s Game Boy at 25: hand-held legacy lives on

Nintendo’s trailblazing Game Boy marks its 25th anniversary Monday with the portable device’s legacy living on in cutting-edge smartphone games and among legions of nostalgic fans.

 Lewis Hamilton got off to an ideal start in the Mercedes at the Chinese Grand Prix. Cliva Mason / Getty Images

Lewis Hamilton completes dominant victory at Chinese Grand Prix

It is a Mercedes 1-2 as Nico Rosberg finishes in second place with Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso getting a podium place.

 A projectionist takes a break in the projection room at Ariana Cinema in Kabul, Afghanistan. Going to the movies, once banned under the Taliban, has become a popular form of entertainment in Kabul, but women and children rarely take part. All photos by Photo by Jonathan Saruk / Reportage by Getty Images

Afghan cinema: Forbidden Reel

The lights go down and the projector whirls into action as Sher Mohammed, 35, begins his routine, bouncing back and forth between two projectors, winding reels, and adjusting the carbon arc lamps inside the projectors.

 The mother removes the noose with the help of her husband from around the neck of Balal.

In pictures: Mother forgives her son’s killer as he awaited his execution

An Iranian mother spared the life of her son’s convicted murderer with an emotional slap in the face as he awaited execution with the noose around his neck.

 Business class seats inside the Emirates Airbus A380. Chip East / Reuters

In it for the long haul: flying 16 hours with Emirates to LA

Our executive travel reviewer tries out the business class offering on Emirates' longest A380 route - and finds time passing quickly.


To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National