WASHINGTON: Emirati minister of tolerance is accused of “serious sexual assault” by the organizer of the Hay literary festival in Abu Dhabi. Caitlin MacNamara claims that the Sheikh ‘assaulted her on Valentine’s Day. Caitlin McNamara has said she was attacked by Sheikh Nahyan Mubarak Al Nahyan, 69, on Valentine’s Day earlier this year. McNamara was in Abu-Dhabi for the launch of festival in the city. McNamara kept silent for a long time but now she has spoke about the misconduct publicly. The Sheikh is a member of Abu Dhabi’s ruling family and likes to be known as the ‘Sheikh of Hearts’. He has denied any unlawful activity, and said over the weekend that he was ‘surprised and saddened’ by the claims made by McNamara.
On Saturday, the directors of the Hay festival vowed never to go back to the UAE while the Sheikh remains in his post as the “minister of tolerance” in the United Arab Emirates cabinet. Nahyan has previously hosted both Boris Johnson when he was mayor of London and also former Prime Minister Tony Blair. Sheikh Nahyan Mubarak Al Nahyan’s family is the fourth richest royal family in the world.
According to the reports, Ms McNamara had spent almost six months working at the Sheikh’s ministry after being hired by the Hay festival to organise its first event in the UAE. On 14th February, Valentine’s Day, she was assaulted by the Sheikh. She revealed that, she received a phone call from the Sheikh inviting her to dinner, saying she had never spoken to him on the phone before then. McNamara added, “After six months there I was used to being summoned to meetings at all times of day,’ she told the newspaper. ‘And no one said no to Nahyan, he was like a god”.
On the day of the occasion, she texted Peter Florence how she felt when the car was taking her to meet Nahyan. She described how she felt like she had been ‘called to the headmaster’s office for disrupting class,’ before joking that Florence should ‘send help’ if she did not return in 24 hours.
Ms McNamara said she felt uncomfortable and so turned on her Whatsapp tracker, enabling others to follow her location. After trying to keep the conversation professional, talking about a poet, who irritated the Sheikh, McNamara then claims that he started touching her.
During lockdown, she reached out to Philippe Sands, renowned writer and human rights barrister who put her in touch with Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, a leading voice on women’s rights.
‘For a man who is a leading minister of his nation to grossly violate a woman who is there to organize a major cultural event is criminal,’ Kennedy said. She demanded that The UAE should sack him immediately but I suspect that will not happen. His family owns the country. As soon as lockdown ended, McNamara contacted the police, giving them a three-hour interview at the Family Unit in Stratford, east London.