bribery
The penal code now covers foreign, as well as domestic bribery in both the public and private sectors, in addition to international organisations. Image Credit: Gulf News archives

Dubai: An officer at Dubai Municipality was honoured for his honesty for rejecting a bribe for a quarter of a million dirhams.

Dawoud Al Hajri, Director General of Dubai Municipality, applauded the dedication and honesty of Rashid Al Muhairi, who refused to be paid a bribery equal to Dh250,000 for entering and disposing illegal water loads to Jebel Ali Station.

The United Arab Emirates currently ranks as the 21 least corrupt nation out of 180 countries, according to the 2019 Corruption Perceptions Index reported by Transparency International.

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The index, which ranks 180 countries and territories by their perceived levels of public sector corruption according to experts and businesspeople, uses a scale of 0 to 100, where 0 is highly corrupt and 100 is very clean. The UAE scored 71 points on the index, followed by Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Jordan, Bahrain and Kuwait.

At the bottom of the region, Syria scored 13, followed by Yemen with a score of 15. Both countries were significant decliners on the corruption index, with Yemen dropping eight points since 2012 and Syria dropping 13 points during the same period.

With a score of 53, Saudi Arabia improved by four points since last year. In 2017, the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman carried out an "anti-corruption" purge as part of his reform of the country.

Globally, the top countries are New Zealand and Denmark, with scores of 87 each, followed by Finland (86), Singapore (85), Sweden (85) and Switzerland (85).

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"The region faces significant corruption challenges that highlight a lack of political integrity. According to our recent report, Global Corruption Barometer - Middle East and North Africa, nearly one in two people in Lebanon is offered bribes in exchange for their votes, while more than one in four receives threats if they don't vote a certain way," said Transparency International in the report released earlier this year.

UAE penal code

The UAE Penal Code was amended in 2018 to cover both foreign and domestic acts of bribery. The decree covers both the public and private sectors, as well as international organisations.

The amendments to the penal code have brought anti-corruption regulations in the UAE more in line with other jurisdictions, with the inclusion of foreign public officials.

The penal code provisions now also apply outside the UAE’s territory, to any person who commits any of the bribery offences set out in the code, if the criminal or victim is a UAE citizen or if the crime is committed by an employee of the public or private sector of the UAE, or if it involves public property.

Prison term

According to article 237 of the Penal Code, a prison term not exceeding five years shall be handed down to whoever offers a public officeholder or person entrusted with a public service, or a foreign public official or official of an international organisation, a gift or advantage of any kind or promise of any such things, in return for doing or refraining from doing any act in breach of his duties.