UK festival curator accuses UAE minister of sexual abuse


LONDON (AP) – The chair of Britain’s Hey Literary Festival said Sunday’s program would not return to Abu Dhabi, with one of the festival’s curators alleging that he was sexually harassed by a tolerant minister of the United Arab Emirates after working with him it was done.

The Sunday Times reported that Caitlin McNamara alleged that she was attacked in February by Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, a member of Abu Dhabi’s ruling family.

The Times said that McNamara, who traveled to the UAE to work on the launch of the literary festival there, claimed that he had been attacked by Sheikh when they met at a remote island villa.

The Foreign Ministry of the United Arab Emirates, also a consortium of seven sheikhs for Dubai on the Arabian Peninsula, said it does not comment on personal matters. When asked about the case, Britain’s Metropolitan Police confirmed that a woman approached the force on 3 July to report a rape allegation, and said that her initial statement had been taken.

The Associated Press does not usually name sexual assault victims, but McNamara agreed to be identified by the Sunday Times, which ran her picture on the front page.

Hay Festival chairman Carolyn Mitchell said her colleagues are committed to supporting McNamara in seeking legal action, adding that Sheikh will not return to Abu Dhabi while in his post.

“What happened to our friend and colleague Caitlin McNamara in Abu Dhabi last February was horrific violation and a disgusting abuse,” Mitchell said in a statement.

She said, “Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan made fun of his ministerial responsibilities and greatly curtailed his government’s attempt to work with the Hay Festival to promote free speech and women’s empowerment.”

Sheikh’s ministry paid for the four-day celebration in Abu Dhabi, which took place in late February and featured many well-known writers.

Sheikh Nahyan has gained international attention as the emirate hosted Pope Francis and moved towards normalizing relations with Israel by welcoming Jews into this Muslim-ruled nation.

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