Man held in Dubai over finger gesture
A British man who raised his middle finger at another driver in Dubai could face jail after he was arrested for “offensive behaviour”.
Jamil Ahmed Mukadam, from Leicester, said he reacted “in frustration” when the driver cut him off in traffic.
It happened in February but he was detained on 10 September as he returned to Dubai for a second holiday.
His passport has been confiscated and Mr Mukadam has been told he must remain in the city awaiting a court hearing.
A Foreign Office spokesman said: “We are assisting a British man who was detained in Dubai and remain in contact with the local authorities.”
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Mr Mukadam, who works for the British government in IT, said he had no idea he had a case against him when he returned to Dubai.
“I am worried about running out of money before I even get to court,” he said.
“No-one plans to spend two months, or more, in hotels in Dubai.”
The organisation Detained in Dubai is supporting Mr Mukadam in the case.
Radha Stirling, its chief executive, said the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a common place for British citizens to be arrested.
“This, in my opinion, is because the country presents itself as very modern and it seems that most behaviour that contradicts the law, is actually ignored,” she said.
“It lulls unsuspecting visitors into a false sense of security that this behaviour is tolerated.
“However, when a finger is pointed at such behaviour, the wrath of the legal system is severe and can warrant lengthy prison sentences.”
Detained in Dubai cautions visitors and expats they may face criminal charges for behaviour common in their own countries, including:
- Sharing a hotel room with someone of the opposite sex who they are not married to
- Sex outside marriage
- Public displays of affection such as holding hands or a kiss on the cheek
- Arguing or showing disrespect to another person
- Swearing or displaying rude gestures
- Drinking alcohol even at a licensed venue
- Cross dressing or wearing feminine appearing clothes like skinny jeans
- For a woman, failing to cover arms or legs
- Acts of homosexuality
Ms Stirling said: “All of these behaviours are common in the UAE but if anyone makes a complaint about it, that person will be subject to arrest.”
The organisation said it receives five to ten calls per week from people who have been accused of such crimes.
Ms Stirling said Mr Mukadam has already been charged and is waiting for a court hearing, which is expected to take four to six weeks.
He will be asked whether he pleads guilty and then receive his judgment approximately three days later, she said.
Mr Mukadam does not know who made the complaint or what nationality they are.
“If the complainant is Emirati or an influential person, the hearings are likely to be prejudiced against the defendant and he is more likely to be found guilty,” said Ms Stirling.
“If he were to contest the complaint, he could end up doing a disservice to himself.
“If found guilty, he may receive a longer sentence.”
The length of the potential prison sentence is unclear, and he could be fined instead.
“The sentence appears discretionary and provides for imprisonment,” said Ms Stirling.
“Local lawyers have said not less than six months but we have seen other cases receiving lesser sentences.”