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Thursday, 14 March, 2002, 21:09 GMT
'Kidnap' boy wants to stay in Dubai
Sarra Fotheringham with Tariq
Sarra wanted to take Tariq out of Dubai
The 11-year-old boy at the centre of a custody battle in Dubai says he wants to stay with his father.

Speaking exclusively to BBC One, Tariq Al-Habtoor said he did not want to live in England.

Asked to explain why, Tariq said he would be "cold" and added: "It's better here. More nice."

His mother, Sarra Fotheringham, was arrested in the United Arab Emirates and charged with kidnapping after allegedly trying to board a ship bound for Iraq with him. She was freed on bail on Thursday.

Bodyguards

Tariq's father, billionaire Rashid Al-Habtoor, offered an olive branch to his former girlfriend.


We should come to an agreement that she can come and visit Tariq

Rashid Al-Habtoor
He said: "We should come to an agreement that she can come and visit Tariq and to support Tariq because he's in a very critical age now he's 11, where we should build his trust and personality and she should be supportive of what he's doing."

Tariq says he wants to get on with his life in Dubai and that when his mother came for him he told her that he could not leave with her.

His family are concerned about the effects of the ordeal and possible future kidnap attempts.

Tariq is being watched by bodyguards 24 hours a day.

'Total excitement'

Mrs Fotheringham has been describing the moment when she tried to leave the country with her son.

She said: "It was the panic, the 'What am I going to do, how am I going to get out? UAE's a small country, I should be able to do it with my son, and I don't know how'."

"It was total panic, total shock, excitement, all the emotions," she told ITV's Tonight with Trevor McDonald programme.

Earlier on Thursday Mrs Fotheringham's husband Neil flew to Dubai to help her.

After being reunited with his wife he said: "It's so gratifying that finally her story will hopefully come out and the truth will come out and maybe we will get a result."

Out on bail

Mrs Fotheringham, from Camberley, Surrey, was granted bail after a delay while a guarantor was found.

Tariq
Sarra says she was denied access to Tariq
The person had to live in the United Arab Emirates and be willing to deposit their passport with the court as security.

Another Briton, Donya Al-Nahi, was charged with acting as an accomplice to the former air hostess and is also thought to have been freed on bail.

Mrs Fotheringham and Mrs Al-Nahi must now stay in the country and have surrendered their passports.

There will be no developments in the case until Sunday at the earliest, said the spokesman.

The maximum sentence for kidnapping in the United Arab Emirates is three years' imprisonment or a fine.

Custody battle

Tariq was born in the UK in 1991 after Mrs Fotheringham left Dubai where she had been working, following the end of a relationship with Mr Al-Habtoor.

She met Neil eight months later, and he reportedly adopted the boy in 1995.

In 1999 Mr Al-Habtoor invited the family over to Dubai - and then insisted they leave without the child.

He won a lengthy custody battle in Dubai, although the UK courts have ruled in the Fotheringhams favour.

See also:

14 Mar 02 | Middle East
Husband flies to 'tug of love' mother
13 Mar 02 | Middle East
'Kidnap' mother has 'no regrets'
13 Mar 02 | Middle East
Tug-of-love father offers help
12 Mar 02 | Middle East
Tug-of-love mother feels 'horrific'
05 Mar 02 | Country profiles
Country profile: United Arab Emirates
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