Somaliland security forces arrest controversial Dubai Quran award competition participant

Ismail Omer Madar Somalia representative expelled from Quran competition and deported due to Somalia neutrality over Gulf crisis

A 21-year old Somalilander who represented Somalia in the annual DIHQA (Dubai International Holy Quran Award) competition has been arrested by Somaliland’s Security Forces, an official has confirmed.

In an interview with, Somaliland’s representative to the United Arab Emirates, Bashe Awil Haji Omar, said Ismail Omar Madar was arrested on Thursday while attempting to board a flight to Qatar.

“When Ismail Omar Madar arrived in the UAE, Somaliland’s Religous Affairs Ministry wasn’t aware of his participation in the contest, nor did he contact Somaliland’s representative office in the UAE. His travel and accommodation were arranged by the Government of Somalia,” Omar said.

“When he arrived in the UAE, he appeared to have ulterior motives. It seems as if the whole purpose of his trip was to discredit the UAE and countries against Qatar” Omar said.

“After being disqualified from the tournament for poor performance, he arrived in Somaliland and began to spread stories that were completely false. I can confirm that he has been arrested by Somaliland’s security forces after attempting to travel to Qatar,” Omar said.

“Somaliland’s security forces are currently conducting an investigation. Once they complete their investigation they will provide an explanation for his arrest and will brief the public on the results of their investigation,” Omar said.

Ismail Omar Madar, who originally hails from Somaliland, was representing Somalia in the competition and was disqualified for poor performance.

After Madar was disqualified, he returned to Hargeisa and held a press conference at Egal International Airport, accusing the UAE of kicking him out of the contest because he was representing Somalia. Somalia refused to cut ties with Qatar last week, placing the country at odds with the Saudi-led coalition.

Madar failed to rally support for his claims, as many Somalilanders on social media condemned him for representing Somalia in the first place.

The Government of Dubai’s Media Office denied Madar’s claims on Tuesday, stating that he was disqualified for poor performance – not for political reasons.

Sources say Madar is expected to face serious treason charges.


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