A British woman says a member of the Abu Dhabi royal family, Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak al Nahyan, forced himself on her in a private villa.
The Emirati Minister of Tolerance Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak al Nahyan has been accused of sexually assaulting a woman at a private residence in the emirate of Abu Dhabi.
Caitlin McNamara, who worked as an organiser for a British literary festival, says she was called to a villa on a private island by al Nahyan on Valentine’s Day for what she thought would be a meeting to help organise an event in the UAE.
Upon her arrival, al Nahyan gifted McNamara a watch worth $4,500 and gave her a hug. The 32-year-old woman, who has forgone the anonymity usually associated with sexual assault cases, spoke to the Sunday Times newspaper about her discomfort with the sheikh’s behaviour as the evening progressed.
"It was creepy. He was on the sofa next to me and began touching my arm and feet and I was pulling away. Then he got forceful. Suddenly, it clicked why I was there. I felt so naive," McNamara said.
Al Nahyan is then alleged to have forcibly kissed McNamara, fondled her without permission, forced her on to a bed, and exposed himself, amongst other acts of sexual assault.
The woman said she was then able to wrest herself free and make her way to the exit where she took a car away from the residence and later a taxi to Dubai, from where she managed to escape the UAE.
A statement from Caroline Michel, chair of Hay Festival. pic.twitter.com/2WhMH8xggf— Hay Festival (@hayfestival) October 18, 2020
McNamara is now taking legal action in the UK to seek redress over the alleged assault and has been interviewed by London’s Metropolitan Police.
Al Nahyan rejects the accusations, which have left him “surprised and saddened,” according to his lawyers.
The Hay Festival, which McNamara worked for, said that al Nahyan had committed an “appalling violation and a hideous abuse of trust.”
In a statement posted on Twitter it said:
"Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan made a mockery of his ministerial responsibilities and tragically undermined his government's attempt to work with Hay Festival to promote free speech and female empowerment.”
According to Human Rights Watch, women who experience rape and sexual assault in the UAE, can find themselves accused of taking part in ‘illicit sex’. The risk can deter women from coming forward with accusations of abuse.