Skip to main content

Alaa al-Siddiq: Prominent Emirati rights activist dies in car crash in Oxfordshire

Tributes paid to Siddiq, who had campaigned for the release of her father and other prisoners of conscience in the UAE
Siddiq lived in the UK after fleeing the UAE where she risked possible arrest for her activism (Supplied)

Prominent human rights advocates have paid tribute to the Emirati activist Alaa al-Siddiq who died in a car crash in Oxfordshire on Saturday. 

Siddiq served as the executive director of rights group Al-Qst, which confirmed her death on Sunday. 

Yahya Assiri, a former member of Al-Qst and the general secretary of the National Assembly Party, which campaigns for democracy in Saudi Arabia, said Siddiq's ​death was an accident and that her family did not suspect any criminal intent.

"Her death is a great loss... she spent most of her life helping others," said Assiri on Twitter. 

"I swear to god; she is one of the noblest and most generous person I knew."

Siddiq gained asylum in the UK, along with her ex-husband Abdulrahman Omar, in 2018, when they were both driven out of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) during its campaign against dissidents between 2011-12. 

She focused on the release of political prisoners in the UAE, including her father Mohammad, who was stripped of his UAE citizenship. He continues to be imprisoned in Abu Dhabi, where he has been held in detention since 2012.

Siddiq, a UAE national, initially sought political asylum with Omar in Qatar, where she lived with relatives before following him to the UK. 

Diplomatic spat

Other notable human rights activists who paid tribute to Siddiq include Hatice Cengiz, the wife of the murdered Saudi journalist and Middle East Eye contributor Jamal Khashoggi. 

One of Siddiq's last tweets said: "I want my father to be released from prison alive." 

Lina al-Hathloul, the sister of women rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul, said "she would not forget" Siddiq and the campaign to free her father. 

In 2018, Qatar's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said the UAE had requested the extradition of a political dissident's wife in 2015. 

Qatar refused the request, which caused a diplomatic rift two years before the UAE joined a blockade against the Gulf country.  

Although Al Thani did not mention Siddiq's name, Abdullah bin Hamad al-Athba, the editor-in-chief of the Qatar-based Al Arab newspaper, later confirmed it was her. 

* This story was changed on Monday 21 June to correct the earlier version which stated that Alaa al-Siddiq died in a car crash in London. A Thames Valley Police statement on 20 June said a woman was killed in a collision in Shipton-under-Wychwood, Oxfordshire, about 8.20pm on Saturday and appealed for witnesses.