A Scottish man holidaying in Dubai is facing up to three years in jail for allegedly putting his hand on another man’s hip to avoid spilling his drink.
Jamie Harron, 27, was arrested in July for public indecency after placing his hand on a man’s hip, the campaign group Detained in Dubai first reported.
Following his arrest, Harron was incarcerated for five days and has not been allowed to leave the country, his passport confiscated. According to Detained in Dubai, he has already spent more than £30,000 in expenses and legal fees since his detention.
“It is quite outrageous that he has been held in the country for so long already,” said Radha Stirling, chief executive of Detained in Dubai. “This is another example of how vulnerable tourists are to arrest and detention in Dubai and at how drawn out and disorganized legal proceedings are.”
The incident occurred as Harron was drinking in a crowded bar and “touched a man on his hip to avoid impact,” after which the man became aggravated. Police soon attended the scene and charged Harron with public indecency.
In an interview with the Daily Mail, Harron’s father, Graham Harron, urged British authorities to increase warnings against tourists traveling to Dubai.
“People have to stop visiting that country,” said his father, adding:
Since Jamie was arrested, I have researched and found that this is more common than any of us think.
It is unacceptable the FCO [Foreign Commonwealth Office] actually promotes the UAE to British tourists.
Despite being one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations, the law of the United Arab Emirates remains based on Sharia teachings, and “crimes” such as homosexuality, abortion, and public displays of affection are all strictly illegal.
Last year, a British woman was arrested after reporting that two men raped her, and she remains detained in the country until her upcoming trial. A 2015 BBC report found that hundreds of women remain imprisoned in the country for the crime of “extramarital sex,” including migrant workers who have reported sexual abuse.
“We have been in contact with a British man following his arrest in Dubai in July. We are providing consular assistance,” the British Foreign Office said of the incident.