Shot, starved – and prized as status symbols: the differing fates of Dubai’s persecuted cats

Shot, starved – and prized as status symbols: the differing fates of Dubai’s persecuted cats
Thousands of cats are being poisoned, shot, dumped beside motorways or abandoned in the desert – all sanctioned by officials in an effort to clean up the streets ahead of the UAE’s global expo – but it’s OK to import exotic cats. Jane Dalton investigates

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t’s home to the world’s most expensive hotels, is a honeypot for thousands of the planet’s super-rich, and practically glistens with fast cars blinged up with gold. But behind the gloss, to keep its streets “clean and hygienic”, the United Arab Emirates is accused of developing a regime that’s “cruel and callous” and leaves pet owners devastated.

Later this year, in specially built space-age pavilions amid fountains and glittering lights, the city of Dubai will host what is being billed as a “global mega event” – a world exhibition on a vast scale, designed to allow the 190 countries taking part to showcase innovations in areas from technology and property to the environment.

Originally scheduled to run from last autumn for six months, the prestigious event was put back by a year because of the pandemic and is now due to open this October. Preparations for the convergence on Dubai of an anticipated 25 million visitors for the event – together with the spread of coronavirus – are suspected of being behind the escalation of a systematic persecution of the country’s large population of stray cats and dogs on the streets.

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