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Emirati tolerance minister accused of ‘serious sexual assault’ by literary festival organizer Hay

The Emirati Tolerance Minister has been accused of ‘serious sexual abuse’ by the organizer of the Hay literary festival in Abu Dhabi.

Caitlin McNamara says she was attacked on Valentine’s Day earlier this year by Sheikh Nahyan Mubarak Al Nahyan, 69 ,.

McNamara, 32, who worked in Abu Dhabi to launch the festival in the city, has now been interviewed by Scotland Yard.

She has waived her right to anonymity and has stated in an interview with the Sunday times, spoke publicly about the alleged sexual assault.

The Sheikh – who is a member of Abu Dhabi’s ruling family and likes to be known as the ‘Sheikh of Hearts’ – has denied any wrongdoing, saying over the weekend that he was ‘surprised and saddened’ by McNamara’s claims.

On Saturday, the Hay festival director vowed never to return to the UAE while the Sheikh remains in his post as Tolerance Minister in the United Arab Emirates cabinet.

Sheikh Nahyan Mubarak Al Nahyan, 69, (pictured) has been accused of sexually assaulting her on Valentine's Day in Abu Dhabi by British woman - Caitlin McNamara

Sheikh Nahyan Mubarak Al Nahyan, 69, (pictured) has been accused of sexually assaulting her on Valentine’s Day in Abu Dhabi by British woman – Caitlin McNamara

Sheikh Nahyan Mubarak Al Nahyan is a member of the Abu Dhabi royal family – the fourth richest royal family in the world.

According to Business Insider, it manages a state investment fund estimated at £ 640 billion, including Manchester City football team.

McNamara had worked at the Sheikh’s ministry for nearly six months after being hired by the Hay festival to host its first event in the UAE.

On the morning of the alleged sexual assault, she told The Times that she had received a call from the sheik inviting her to dinner, saying she had never spoken to him on the phone.

“After six months there, I was used to being called to meetings at any time of the day,” she told the newspaper. “And nobody said no to Nahyan – he was like a god.”

But instead of going to the palace, she said that the car that picked her up was driving in the opposite direction and leaving the city, without the driver telling her where they were going.

McNamara said she was taken across a bridge to a small island she believes is the exclusive Al Gurm resort, where many of the Emirati royals own properties, and then to the Sheikh’s home.

There she was taken inside, where she met the sheik, who she said was very kind to her, gave her a hug and pulled out a £ 3,500 watch with gold and diamonds.

They also drank wine, she said, which surprised her as it is illegal in the country.

After trying to keep the conversation professional and talking about a poet – which annoyed the Sheikh – McNamara then claims he started to touch her.

“It was scary,” she said. ‘He was laying on the couch next to me and started to touch my arm and feet and I pulled back, then he got strength … Suddenly it clicked why I was there. I felt so naive. ‘

It was then that McNamara said her situation dawned on her and she began to think about ways she could escape the house and island without offending him by making him think she disapproved of him.

McNamara, 32, who worked in Abu Dhabi to launch the festival in the city, has now been interviewed by Scotland Yard

McNamara, 32, who worked in Abu Dhabi to launch the festival in the city, has now been interviewed by Scotland Yard

McNamara, 32, who worked in Abu Dhabi to launch the festival in the city, has now been interviewed by Scotland Yard

After seeking excuses to leave, McNamara said the sheik took her on a tour of the house instead, at one point “ grabbed her face and kissed her, ” and when she was in a golden elevator, she claims that he attacked her again.

“We got into a gold elevator where he pushed me against the wall and started rubbing my breasts in a weird way like windshield wipers,” she claimed.

He pulled up his kandora and was naked underneath, and climbed on top of me. I pulled my dress down, but he put his hands into my dress and his fingers into me. ‘

Nahyan has denied the allegations.

Finally, McNamara told The Times that she was able to go downstairs, out the door and in a car away from the island, and the next morning she took a two-hour taxi to Dubai.

In the days that followed, she claims the sheik has tried to contact her several times.

On February 25, the festival opened as scheduled, and she flew back to London on March 5 as the coronavirus pandemic gathered momentum.

“ What he had done affected everything, ” she said, telling The Times that she has since split up with her long-term boyfriend, lost her job, and believes she could never return to the UAE.

During the lockdown, she reached out to Philippe Sands – a well-known writer and human rights lawyer – who put her in touch with Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, a leading voice in women’s rights.

“For a man who is a leading minister of his country, it is a criminal offense to grossly violate a woman who is there to host a major cultural event,” Kennedy told The Times.

‘The UAE should fire him immediately, but I suspect that won’t happen. His family owns the land. ‘

Once the lockdown ended, McNamara contacted the police and gave them a three-hour interview at the Family Unit in Stratford, East London.

After the interview, police took their security concerns so seriously that they placed panic alarms in her apartment.

The Sunday Times contacted the Sheikh and his representatives for a response to the allegations, but he did not immediately respond, the paper reported, but did receive a response from London libel lawyer Schillings with a statement.

“Our client is surprised and saddened by this allegation, which comes in eight months after the alleged incident and through a national newspaper,” he said. “The account has been declined.”

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