British Citizens in Dubai Warned to Observe Sharia Law This Christmas to Avoid Long Jail Sentences

Reuters/Mohammed Omar
Reuters/Mohammed Omar

The Foreign Office has launched a campaign to remind travellers to respect Islamic law at Christmas while abroad, releasing a series of rhymes inspired by American 19th century seasonal poem Twas The Night Before Christmas, or as it is more formally known, A Visit From St. Nicholas.

Clearly conscious that the authorities in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are not at all reluctant to put British citizens behind bars for infringing the strict Sharia law imposed there, the poems are careful not to strike too dark a tone, following a fictional ex-pat who wants to go out for a drink. The story begins with the familiar rhyme describing his departure, and warning any would-be travellers to pack their passports, and to check their travel documents are in order.

The cautionary tale takes a turn for the slightly more surreal, however, when Stuart Nicholas goes to a party. The Foreign office warns kissing what we can assume is his wife, or appearing drunk in public could land him in prison.

The poem then goes on to describe his journey home, in which he breaks the law and finds his taxi driver unamused by Christmas cheer. Thankfully for Stu, he gets away with a banging head – rather than being banged up.

This is not the first time the British embassy in the strict nation has issued such advice, warning in 2010 to not get caught up in Dubai’s strict drug laws, which can land a traveller in prison for even just carrying prescription, and some over-the-counter medication. Even just having drug ‘residue’ on your clothing can lead to a four year jail sentence.

Last year, a British woman was arrested for having a glass of wine with a married man. Other Brits have been jailed and fined for kissing in public, and having sex outside of marriage. Even bad language can lead to offenders being deported.


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