UAE sentences Israeli woman to death over half-kilo of cocaine

Fidaa Kiwan, arrested in March 2021, claims drugs did not belong to her; officials anticipate reduction in punishment after appeal

Fidaa Kiwan. (Courtesy)
Fidaa Kiwan. (Courtesy)

An Israeli woman, Fidaa Kiwan, was sentenced to death Tuesday in Dubai after she was convicted of possessing half a kilogram of cocaine.

The Foreign Ministry said that “the case is known and we are handling it through the consular service and our representatives in the Emirates.”

Kiwan, a 43-year-old Haifa resident who owns a photography studio, reportedly came to Dubai for work at the invitation of a Palestinian acquaintance a year ago. She was arrested a short while later, on March 17, 2021, after a search of her apartment turned up the drugs, the Ynet news site reported. She has claimed that the drugs were not hers, and her local lawyer is expected to appeal the decision.

Officials with knowledge of the case told The Times of Israel that they expect the sentence to be reduced to a long prison term upon appeal.

The United Arab Emirates is known for its strict anti-drug laws, with those convicted of drug trafficking facing a possible death sentence. However, the death sentences are not rigorously enforced in many cases and tend to be converted into heavy prison sentences.

This was not the first time that the UAE has made a notable drug bust of an Israeli. In October 2021, it was reported that an Israeli man — Halil Dasuki, 31, from Lod — was arrested in Dubai on suspicion of involvement in a scheme to smuggle half a ton of cocaine into the UAE and from there to Israel.

At the time, Emirati police said they foiled the smuggling attempt after receiving a tip about a cargo container carrying the contraband through a seaport. They noted that a suspect of “Middle Eastern origin” was arrested in the operation, and he was described as an intermediary for an international drug syndicate.

Police display a brick of cocaine seized in the United Arab Emirates. (Screenshot/Walla)

Israel and the United Arab Emirates normalized ties in 2020 when they signed the US-brokered Abraham Accords, along with Bahrain. The UAE has since become a popular tourist and business destination for Israelis and tens of thousands have visited the Emirates.

Lazar Berman contributed to this report.

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