In Dubai, a Texan woman, famously known as the “Sassy Trucker” on the internet, finds herself entangled in a legal dispute that sheds light on the constraints imposed on freedom of speech in the UAE. After an incident at a car rental agency, the Houston native has been stranded in Dubai for several weeks.
Dubai, United Arab Emirates – Tierra Young Allen, a Houston woman known as the “Sassy Trucker” on social media, has been stranded in Dubai for several months following an altercation at a car rental agency. Her case highlights the strict regulations on speech in this towering city-state, surpassing those common in Western nations.
The United Arab Emirates has stringent rules governing speech, and even seemingly minor actions like raising a middle finger in traffic or using offensive language in public can lead to criminal charges, catching many foreign tourists unaware of the consequences.
Allen’s trip to Dubai in April was documented on her social media accounts, boasting tens of thousands of followers, where she shared videos of her adventures test-driving a Mercedes semitruck, enjoying the beach, visiting tourist attractions, and partying at nightclubs.
However, trouble arose towards the end of her trip when a rental car driven by a friend was involved in a crash on April 28. Radha Stirling, who runs an advocacy group called Detained in Dubai and has been critical of the UAE’s legal system, stated that an altercation occurred when Allen tried to retrieve her personal belongings from the rental agency.
Details surrounding the incident at the unnamed car rental agency remain unclear, with Stirling suggesting that Allen could potentially face charges for “shouting” at an employee without providing further specifics on her statements during the incident. Stirling accused the car rental agency employee of displaying aggressive behavior towards Allen.
Allen has refrained from commenting on the matter, allegedly due to fear of additional charges from the UAE government if she speaks publicly.
Dubai police, however, have a different account of the altercation, stating that a complaint was filed by the car rental office, accusing Allen of slandering and defaming an employee during a dispute over rental fees. The police acknowledged questioning Allen as part of legal procedures and released her while the case remains unresolved.
Typically, in such cases, travel bans are imposed until a resolution is reached. The police have reportedly confiscated Allen’s passport.
The U.S. State Department is aware of the situation and confirmed that Allen is unable to depart Dubai. They are providing necessary assistance and remaining in close communication with her and her family.
The State Department’s travel advisory warns visitors about potential consequences, including arrest, fines, and deportation, for actions such as making rude gestures, using profanity, or making derogatory statements about the UAE, its royal families, local governments, or individuals.
Under Emirati law, publicly insulting another person can lead to a prison sentence of up to one year and a fine of $5,450. Similar disputes over rental car agency fees have left other foreign tourists stranded in Dubai in the past.