I traveled to Dubai to meet with many of our LL.M. alumni living in the Middle East. All of the arrangements for the reunion and my visit were made by Nasser Bin Ghaith (UAE, LLM'02) and his brother, Marwan Al-Ghaith (LLM '04).
On December 17, 2004, 17 of our graduates joined me in an all-afternoon lunch and seminar focusing on the Iraq war, prospects for peace in the Middle East, and the image of Islam in the West.
We engaged in robust, frank, and at times, heated discussions, offering a wide divergence of views. Alumni attending the seminar were Meshal AlAbdulwahab (Kuwait, LLM'04), Dr. Abdullah Al-Attas (Saudi Arabia, LLM '06), Falah Al-Daihani (Kuwait, LLM '02), Marwan Al-Ghaith, Abdulaziz Al-Jarallah (Saudi Arabia, LLM '02), Adel Al-Khathlan (Saudi Arabia, LLM '02), Ahmed Al-Muhairi (UAE, LLM '01), Khalid Al-Nahit (Saudi Arabia, LLM '02), Bandar Al-Rasheed (Saudi Arabia, LLM '02), Nasser Althwaini (Saudi Arabia, LLM '01), Khalid Atwan (Jordan, LLM '96), Mohammad Jazzar (Saudi Arabia, LLM '96), Abdulaziz Redhayan (Saudi Arabia, LLM '01), Abdullah Bin-Ateeq (Saudi Arabia, LLM'03), Nasser Bin Ghaith, and two current LL.M. students, Khalid Al-Murar and Soroor Al-Dhaheri, both from the United Arab Emirates.
Later that evening, I joined the seminar participants for a festive riverboat dinner cruise hosted by the Bin Ghaith brothers. Yahya Al-Naemi (LLM '02) of Qatar made it in time for the boat cruise. It was an evening of fun and reminiscing as we feasted on local shrimp and lobster. Judges Rashid Al-Bader (LLM '96) and Fawaz Al-Jattal (LLM '00), both of Qatar, arrived in Dubai after the boat departed.
We had a joyful reunion later that night after the boat docked.
Earlier in the week, I visited with LL.M. alums, Jihad (LL.M. '00) and Donna (LLM '01) Ghoury, who relocated to Dubai last year. They are now both working and are very happy to be in Dubai. Nasser and Marwan showed me a great deal of Dubai during my visit. It is a modern, free-wheeling society. Bill Clinton was there during my visit; he was the keynote speaker at the widely publicized conference on the future of the Arab world.
Dubai is a modern city, filled with sky scrapers, luxury malls, tourist attractions, traffic jams, and an attitude that exudes freedom and success.
The Bin Ghaith brothers also arranged for me to visit the main courthouse, where I met Dubai's Attorney General and the public prosecutor, the Dubai Police Academy and Law School, and the central Dubai prison. During his year in Cleveland, Marwan Al-Ghaith always smiled and said that his was a "very civilized" country whenever we discussed government oppression throughout the world.
At the end of the week, I, too, came to the conclusion that Dubai is a "very civilized" city/state. One of my own personal tests of the quality of a civilization pertains to the quality of life in a state or country's jails and prisons. When we first entered the Dubai Central Prison, which is an old facility, my first impression was that it did not have the tell-tale smell that jails and prisons in the United States have. Prisoners, including those serving time for very serious crimes like murder (designated by the color stripe on their uniforms) were not locked up but moving freely throughout the prison, attending class, and working on furniture with very sharp instruments. There were also complaint boxes throughout the facility, which the warden told me are only opened by him.
It's not possible to evaluate a prison based on a three hour visit, but I found this institution very impressive. I also had the opportunity to visit Abu Dabi, where I toured the city and the main U.A.E. naval base, as the guest of Brigadier General Suhail Shaheen Al-Murar, Commander-in-Chief of UAE Naval Forces, and the father of current LL.M. student Khalid Al-Murar. I had a wonderful trip, and as always the best part of it was visiting with many friends of the law school whom I had not seen since they graduated from the LL.M. program.
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