Dubai: For the first time, inmates at Dubai Central Jail have built a caravan that can be towed by a vehicle to provide a comfortable place to sleep while travelling over long distances or camping. From making a crafted traditional wooden mini box to benches and chairs, Dubai inmates continue to set the bar high as they make products bearing the ‘Made in UAE’ logo.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the craft centre used to welcome up to 220 inmates, but in view of the pandemic, the capacity was reduced to about 64 inmates.
For a 36-year-old Indian inmate, coming to the correctional facility’s craft centre was a life-changing move. “I come to work here everyday, except the weekends. I used to be a carpenter in the past. Dubai Police have now given me a great opportunity to work and earn money while I’m still inside jail,” the inmate told Gulf News.
Major General Ali Al Shamali, Director of the General Department of Punitive and Correctional Institutions at Dubai Police, told Gulf News that inmates at Dubai’s Al Awir jail make hand-made products of premium quality, as the correctional institution offers them a second chance at life. “Dubai Central Jail has a special rehabilitation programme to teach new skills to inmates who are willing to learn. Our inmates have crafted many products, including the outdoor benches that were used at Expo 2020 Dubai and now these caravans,” Maj. Gen. Al Shamali said.
He added that the inmates are paid for working in the crafting section at the prison and they even get a share of the profit from selling the products.
A group of inmates in their white uniforms gather around a caravan to put their final touches for it to be delivered its prospective buyer. Captain Ali Abdullah from Dubai Police is responsible for selling and distributing these products made by the inmates. He told Gulf News that the caravan has a bedroom, kitchen, a bathroom and every other facility that a family needs in a caravan.
“The caravans are usually imported to UAE, but inmates in Dubai have managed to design and build a caravan made in the UAE. They have finished building their first caravan and there will be more to come in the future,” Captain Abdullah said.
Inmates also craft various other products such as heart-shaped jewellery boxes, handmade wooden chests with gold or red brass finish, sail cargo ships and buffet chests with brass finish.
“Products made by Dubai inmates have reached the United States and various other countries. A restaurant in Bahrain has purchased buffet chests made by Dubai inmates,” Captain Abdullah added.
He said that inmates are paid for working at the correctional facility’s crafting centre and are also paid a commission on each sold product. “We want to help them earn money while they are in jail. Some of them save this money and the skill they develop can help them make a new beginning when they are out of jail. Some prefer to wire the money to their families,” he added.