Elderly Man Could Spend Years In Prison For Taking Picture In “No Photography” Area

A family of an American man says their father/grandfather may be sentenced to five years in prison for allegedly taking a picture of something he shouldn’t have while visited the United Arab Emirates.

Robert Alan Black, 70, was visiting the country from Athens, Georgia to speak at a creativity conference. While on an event break and walking the neighborhood, he came across a sign that banned photography.

According to his colleague and friend Mahmoud Arafa, Black may have posted to take the picture to post on Facebook to show people there’s nothing like this in the United States.

Here is one of the last pictures Black posted.  You can spot the sign to the right of the gate.


Black was arrested for taking the picture, and for a week, unable to call his family.

Black’s daughter Jessica Beasley said she talked to her father once since his arrest in October. Beasley said she’s concerned about her father’s health, as he suffers from high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes.

There have been several foreigners who’ve been arrested and found guilty of violating the country’s strict laws about taking pictures of embassies and palaces.

U.S State Department spokeswomen Jen Psaki said she knew about the situation with Black but did not provide any details about the agency’s efforts to have him released. She did say that the agency was concerned about its country’s citizens overseas. She said the U.S. Embassy, located in Abu Dhabi, is offering all the consular assistance needed.

Black is apparently having a hard time retaining a lawyer in Arab Emirates – someone who will help him fight the possible five-year sentence.

Black was a highly skilled architect and promotes himself as being an architect, graphic designer, creativity consultant, cartoonist, and professor. He is the author of “Broken Crayons: Break Your Crayons and Draw Outside the Lines” along with several magazine articles.

According to his family and friends, he is an avid photographer and didn’t mean anything by taking the picture.

Beasley said her father is upset that he was arrested for taking the picture and is sorry for it. She doesn’t know when her father will stand trial for the charge.

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