I always ask my publishers or hosts wherever I travel in the world if they can arrange for me to meet police officers – I find it immensely helpful for my research for my Roy Grace novels to have as broad a picture of the world’s police forces and their different problems in different countries and cultures.
So when I was invited to the inaugural Emirates Literary Festival I asked the organizers if they could arrange such a visit for me. They responded enthusiastically and told me they had arranged for me to speak to some officers and student recruits at the Dubai Police Academy.
Now, due to some failure by myself to fully read my brief, I duly arrived at the Police Academy for an 8am appointment on Sunday, expecting to sit in a meeting room with half a dozen people. You can imagine my surprise when I was greeted by the very charming Director of the Academy, Brigadier Dr. Mohammed Ahmed Bin-Fahad, in full dress uniform, who told me that they were “all” waiting for me.
I was then ushered by a Police Major into their lecture hall and greeted by 420 uniformed Police Cadets, who stood up and saluted me. The Major then directed me to a podium. I gulped somewhat nervously and asked him what he wanted me to say. He replied, “They are waiting for your lecture.”
I then had to stand on the podium and deliver an off-the-cuff 45 minute lecture on the issues facing the police in the Western World (line by line, followed by a translation of each line) then another 30 minutes of Q & A! I have never felt more grateful, than at that moment, towards the Muslim laws forbidding the drinking of alcohol.
The previous night a large number of the authors present, including Kate Mosse, Louis De Bernieres, Brian Aldiss, Anthony Horowitz, Lesley Pearse and Victoria Hislop (accompanied by her husband, Ian) were left literally high and dry up a creek, when we discovered that our night time Dhow cruise up the Dubai Creek was totally alcohol free.
Thanks to that at least I had no hangover and a badly needed clear head!!!