Emirati tourists warned to avoid 'dangerous' Oxford Street


It’s a mile-long shopping destination known for chain stores, traffic jams, air pollution and crowds of meandering tourists, but London’s Oxford Street has gained an  unwelcome accolade after the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs listed it on a map of the most “dangerous areas” for Emirati tourists in the capital.

The warning comes after two separate attacks on Emirati tourists in London this year, and has prompted fears that it may reduce the number of wealthy visitors to the capital from the Gulf.

In April three Emirati sisters were attacked in their hotel room at Marble Arch, while two weeks later a couple from the country were robbed at gun point in their Paddington.

The UAE's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has also included Edgware Road, Bond Street, Tottenham Court Road, Soho, Marble Arch and Piccadilly on a map of dangerous areas, which it appears to have created using the Met Police’s freely available crime mapping website.

The ministry said these areas had high rates for fraud, theft and pickpocketing. “This area includes famous Selfridges, which attracts many Emiratis,” a spokesman is reported to have said. However tourism officials and the Met Police have pointed to an overall drop in crime of 17 per cent in the West End since 2007, with robberies at their lowest level in 15 years and burglaries at the lowest number since 1974.

Metropolitan Police commander Makhdum Chishty said “There is absolutely nowhere in London which should be avoided. We understand the incidents involving Emirati nationals earlier this year was shocking, but it was also very, very rare.”

He added: “Police presence is high and post-Ramadan with the traditional influx of visitors from the UAE, we reviewed our policing plans so we have a strong presence from our policing teams and officers working in plain clothes. We are also profiling busy times of the week when visitor spots and iconic destinations in central London become busy.”

Video: Jamie Merrill explains the reasons behind the decision

Emirati tourist Mona Al Ali, 29, told the National newspaper in Dubai: “I will definitely be avoiding those areas the next time I go to London because this is like an official warning from the ministry… I think maybe people from the Gulf are more targeted there because of their lifestyle. They might not be too discreet with their jewellery when they travel and they were nice clothes.”

The New West End Company, which represents traders in the West End declined to comment on Wednesday, but a source close to many shops in the area described the UAE safety guidance as “misinformation”.

Gordon Innes, chief executive of London & Partners, which promotes the capital abroad, insisted that “London is one of the safest big cities in the world” with a “friendly multicultural population”.

He told The Independent, “Whilst we appreciate that the isolated incidents involving UAE citizens earlier in the year raised understandable concerns, crimes of this nature remain extremely rare and the city authorities have been working hard to reassure people travelling from this region to London that we take the safety of all visitors in our capital extremely seriously.”

A spokesperson for the Mayor of London said: “Crime in London fell by six per cent in the last year, with burglary and robbery at their lowest rates for years, making London one of the safest major cities in the world. Crimes like those involving UAE citizens earlier in the year are isolated and thankfully very rare; and the Met Police will continue to work extremely hard to ensure the safety of the millions of visitors who flock to the capital each year.”

Lonely Planet Britain's James Smart said: “Tens of thousands of shoppers visit Oxford Street every day and the vast majority of these visits will be incident free. When incidents do occur, they tend to grab the headlines, thanks to Oxford Street's international reputation. We'd always encourage travellers to any of the world's major cities to keep an eye on their bag or wallet. 

“If Oxford Street isn't for you, particularly as it can get very busy, London boasts lots of shopping alternatives. There are smart boutiques in Mayfair, grungy markets in Camden, hip design shops in Clerkenwell and vintage clothes stalls in Shoreditch. If you want big brands, the shopping centres in Shepherd's Bush and Stratford have them all under one roof.”

Emma Watson has become the latest target of the 4Chan nude hacking scandal
peopleThreats follows actress' speech on feminism and equality at the UN
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
Arts and Entertainment
Geena Davis, founder and chair of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Rita Ora will replace Kylie Minogue as a judge on The Voice 2015
Life and Style
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
Tennis player Andy Murray's mum Judy has been paired with Anton du Beke for Strictly Come Dancing. 'I'm absolutely delighted,' she said.
tvJudy Murray 'struggling' to let Anton Du Beke take control on Strictly
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Arts and Entertainment
Salmond told a Scottish television chat show in 2001that he would also sit in front of a mirror and say things like,
tvCelebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Primary teaching roles in Ipswich

£21552 - £31588 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Randstad Education re...

Science teachers needed in Norwich

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Science teachers requ...

Semi Senior Accountant - Music

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: A successful, Central London bas...

English teachers required in Lowestoft

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Qualified English tea...

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits