A 55-year-old American veteran named Robert Dobbs has been held in custody in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for more than five years on grounds he maintains are baseless. Dobbs, who was in the US Army for eight years, is unable to exit the United Arab Emirates or apply for a new work permit. His lengthy incarceration has had a negative impact on his mental and emotional health, and he is becoming more and more anxious to see his family again. The events underlying Dobbs’ arrest and his continuous fight for justice are examined in this article.

The Infinite Struggle

Dobbs’s story started with a money disagreement with his previous employer in Sharjah, a UAE city close to Dubai. Dobbs’s employment at the private school in Sharjah came to an end after four years of employment. His end-of-service benefit, which is normally given to workers who finish their term of employment in the UAE, was withheld by the institution, nevertheless. In addition, the school declined to cancel his work visa, which was linked to his job at the establishment.

Dobbs filed a lawsuit against the school in 2018, and the court decided in his favor. He was ordered to get his end-of-service reward from the school. But when the school filed a civil lawsuit against Dobbs, claiming he owed over $100,000 in unpaid tuition for his children who attended the school, things got really serious.

Dobbs maintains that the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted court proceedings, therefore he was never notified of the court date and that the claim was without merit. He has tried to produce evidence and file an appeal, but the case is closed.

Holding onto Limbo

Dobbs has been kept apart from his family—his wife and five children—due to his lengthy incarceration. In 2020, he had to make the tough choice to return his family to the United States because to the increasingly complicated legal situation. His wife has only been able to see him twice since then, and each time has been fraught with danger and worries about being watched by the local government.

Dobbs talks on having to deal with the psychological effects of being away from his family, living in constant fear of being arrested, and living with hypervigilance. He relies on odd jobs under the table to support himself because he is unable to work officially.

Activism and Heartfelt Requests

Through the group Detained in Dubai, which helps foreign visitors with legal concerns in the United Arab Emirates, Dobbs has been aggressively pursuing his release. Dobbs makes an effort, but he is nevertheless imprisoned in what he calls a “open-air prison,” where he is subjected to repeated arrests and even physical assault by local law police.

The CEO of Detained in Dubai, Radha Stirling, highlights that Dobbs is without legal means to clear his name or settle the unpaid tuition bill. She urges US authorities to use diplomacy to gain Dobbs’ release and issues a dire warning that he might never come home if nothing is done.