x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

UAE Ministry issues its own tourist map of London with emphasis on safety

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has issued advice for Emiratis traveling to London, pointing out the 'dangerous' areas of the capital.

London’s Metropolitan Police insist that no part of the city is considered a 'no-go' area. “We are not advising anybody to avoid any area of London and in particular the areas that have been flagged up,” a spokeswoman said. Dan Kitwood/Getty Images
London’s Metropolitan Police insist that no part of the city is considered a 'no-go' area. “We are not advising anybody to avoid any area of London and in particular the areas that have been flagged up,” a spokeswoman said. Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

ABU DHABI // Some Emiratis say they will avoid areas of London after the Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a map of “dangerous areas” in the English capital.

Those highlighted as most dangerous were Oxford Street, Edgware Road, Piccadilly and Soho, while less perilous were Shepherd’s Bush and Queensway.

“I will definitely be avoiding those areas the next time I go to London because this is like an official warning from the ministry,” said Dubai resident Mona Al Ali, 29.

“I will take it seriously because I can’t imagine going to such places without getting scared or worried.”

The warning comes after two separate attacks on Emiratis in the city this year.

On April 6, three sisters were attacked in their room at the Cumberland Hotel by a hammer-wielding burglar, while two weeks later an Emirati couple and their friend were confronted by intruders wielding a gun and butcher knife in their Paddington apartment.

The ministry said the areas on its map had high crime rates for fraud, theft and pickpocketing.

Dangerous areas included Marble Arch station running north to Edgware Road and beyond the Metropole Hotel. Also specified was Marble Arch station to the west, to Tottenham Court Road to the east, through Bond Street and Oxford Circus.

“This area includes the famous Selfridges, which attracts many Emiratis,” the ministry said.

Another area was the square to the east of Oxford Circus to Tottenham Court Road, and running south to Leicester Square, Piccadilly Circus to the west and back up to Oxford Circus. A popular market in Shepherd’s Bush was also named, as was the area between Queensway and Bayswater stations.

“I think maybe people from the Gulf are more targeted there because of their lifestyle. They might not be too discreet with their jewellery when they travel and they wear nice clothes,” said Ms Al Ali.

“All of this attracts criminals, which is why I keep my travel gear low-key to avoid attracting any kind of attention to myself.”

Mohammad Al Awadhi said he avoided the “hot zones” of any country when it was advised.

“You have to follow the guidelines from the Government,” said the Dubai man. “It’s a question of being discreet. You have to keep a low profile and be normal. But from my experience overseas, a lot of people are almost inviting criminals over.”

London’s Metropolitan Police, however, insisted that no part of the city was considered a “no-go” area. “We are not advising anybody to avoid any area of London and in particular the areas that have been flagged up,” a spokeswoman said.

She said crime had been falling for some time by about 16 per cent in Westminster, the borough most Emiratis stay in during their visits.

A security expert noted while London was quite safe, crime happened as it does in any city.

“The recent criminal-related attacks on Emiratis reflect a tendency of criminal gangs in London to target Emirati nationals, as well as Saudis and other GCC nationals, who are perceived as wealthy and easy targets,” said Johan Obdola, from the International Association of Airport and Seaport Police.

“The UAE should put together its own preventive measures to educate UAE nationals visiting, studying or doing business not only in London, but the rest of Europe and all over the world.”

cmalek@thenational.ae