Justin Reilly
· News : AE

British man facing three years in jail for drinking in Dubai

It's still a Muslim country.

A 27-year-old British man is facing three years in jail after being convicted of “public indecency” in Dubai, UAE.

One of the charges against him was for consuming alcohol in public and has earnt him a month in jail, plus a fine of  2,000 dirhams (£412), and a deportation order.

Another charge is related to an incident that got him arrested on 15 July 2017 for alleged public indecency related to drinking alcohol at the Rock Bottom Cafe bar, which is situated in lobby of the Regent Hotel.

Jamie Harron, from Scotland, had been told not to leave the city in order to attend future court hearings.

The UK Foreign Office’s advice about alcohol in the United Arab Emirates says: 

Non-Muslim residents can get a liquor licence to drink alcohol at home and in licensed venues. These licences are valid only in the Emirate that issued the licence. Residents must also get a permit to be able to drink in licensed venues.

Alcoholic drinks are served in licensed hotels and clubs, but it is a punishable offence to drink, or to be under the influence of alcohol, in public. The legal age for drinking alcohol is 18 in Abu Dhabi (although a Ministry of Tourism by-law allows hotels to serve alcohol only to those over 21), and 21 in Dubai and the Northern Emirates (except Sharjah, where drinking alcohol is illegal).

Passengers in transit through the UAE under the influence of alcohol may also be arrested.

Harron is said to have been walking through a crowded bar holding a drink, with his hand in front of him to avoid spillage, when he “touched a man on his hip to avoid impact”.

He was then held in custody for five days in Al Barsha prison, before having his passport  confiscated and being released on bail.

Harron, an electrician, was on a two-day stopover in Dubai while on his way to Afghanistan where he works. He has now lost his job and has had to fork out more than £30,000 to cover expenses and legal fees.

Radha Stirling, chief executive of Detained in Dubai, said:

“He’s concerned. He’s already been there three months. It seems to be never-ending for him and he’s frustrated.”

The UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office said it was providing consular assistance on the matter.

Personally I'm never going to connect through Dubai, Abu-Dhabi or any other UAE city again - no matter how cheap the flights are. We tend to forget that these places are still Muslim countries, and that they are governed by archaic religious laws which are intolerant of other cultures and beliefs.