Nepalese Embassy officials and community leaders interact with Nepalese workers at an awareness programme on the Abu Dhabi National Hotel campus in Musaffah. Image Credit: Courtesy: Nepalese Embassy

Abu Dhabi: More than 180 Nepalese nationals are languishing in UAE jails, mostly for committing crimes like alcohol consumption and drunk driving, a diplomat said on Saturday.

Most of them are behind bars in petty crimes of liquor use as they are not aware of local rules, a senior diplomat at the Nepal Embassy in Abu Dhabi told Gulf News on Saturday.

“In the past one year, Nepalese inmates’ numbers have almost doubled, which is alarming for us,” said Krishna Aryal, second secretary at Nepal Embassy.

To address the issue and make its workers aware of local cultures, rules and regulations, the embassy on Saturday started a monthlong campaign among Nepalese expat workers.

The first programme was held on the Abu Dhabi National Hotel campus in Musaffah where more than 5,000 Nepalese work.

The mission will organise wider sessions next week for labourers at the Musaffah labour accommodation cluster and then move to Dubai and other Northern Emirates.

Around 225,000 Nepalese people live in the UAE.

Speaking to Gulf News, Aryal said, “It’s a matter of major concern for us as that less than 100 Nepalese used to be behind bars a year back but now it’s jumped to 185. Most of them are in jail because of the petty crime of alcohol consumption. During the month, we will tell them it’s prohibited here and you need to obtain a licence from local authorities, if you wish to drink.”

He said 51 per cent of the total Nepalese inmates were charged with alcohol consumption followed by illegal stay, while other crimes they committed include traffic rule breaches, work without permit, assault, property damage, theft, robbery and a few cases of murder and drug abuse.

Most of these crimes were committed due to a lack of awareness among the Nepalese of local rules and regulations, the diplomat said.

Respect cyber rules

The programme focused on different issues that include consular issues, local laws and cautioning them of drugs, adultery, illegal money transfer and banned substance abuse.

The mission officials also educated them about the appropriate use of social media sites respecting the cyber rules as it may land them in jail and attract huge penalties.

Aryal told workers that one Nepalese national was apprehended under cybercrime laws of the UAE and he had to serve jail terms, and paid a fine of Dh500,000 for bypassing cyber rules misusing others email IDs and forging their details.

“Though it’s not a big problem in our community but we wanted to make them aware of cyber rules, too,” he said.

The embassy also distributed a handbook among workers focusing on the labour issues, consular services and UAE rules in Nepali language.