Briton could face Dubai jail term for finger gesture

A British IT consultant is stuck in Dubai facing a charge of offensive behaviour after sticking his finger up to a driver while on holiday in the oil-rich state.

Jamil Ahmed Mukadam is now expecting a court date and if convicted faces up to six months in jail, according to his legal advisers, after being detained under the emirate’s strict federal laws.

The incident happened in February as the 23-year-old took his wife to the airport in a hire car after a driver started tail-gating and flashing their lights.

However, the first he knew of a problem was when he was detained at Dubai border control and his passport seized after arriving for another break on 10 September.

He was detained at Bur Dubai police station for two days before being bailed.

His wife returned home but Mukadam, from Leicester, is stuck in the country and short of cash while awaiting a formal charge.

He said: “I had no idea that there was a case against me when I returned to Dubai.

“I love visiting the UAE and had booked a week away from work. I just hope that we can resolve this quickly so I can get back to work and my family.”

Lawyer Radha Stirling, who runs Detained in Dubai and is advising Mukadam, said the prospect of jail was very real, with previous reports of tourists and expats being imprisoned for breaking the emirate’s strict behaviour laws.

She said her firm had “dealt with thousands of such cases over the past 10 years” and handles five to 10 queries each week.

Stirling added: “If he was going to be acquitted we’d have known about it by now, so they obviously want to pursue it.

“He’s at the stage now that it’s with the prosecution – he hasn’t heard anything since his arrest.

“They’ll formally charge him and then he’ll receive a court date in four to six weeks. He’s going to plead guilty. He’s going to admit to it, and write a letter to the court. There’s almost no point in defending against this – the maximum sentence is six months and hiring a lawyer out there could cost between £10,000 and £20,000.

“If he lost the case, he’d be there much longer.”

Tuning to the possible sentence, she added: “He has been charged under federal laws with offensive behaviour and the complaint states that he raised his middle finger at another driver. The sentencing guidelines say that he could be imprisoned for up to six months, receive a fine and deportation. In other cases we have assisted with, the defendant has been fined.

“However, there are a number of reports of tourists and expats receiving custodial sentences of between one and six months.”

Mukadam is the latest Briton to fall foul of the law in Dubai.

In May 2011 top UK surgeon Joseph Nunoo-Mensah was detained in Dubai after being accused of a making a rude gesture at another driver through the window of his car. He was later released after paying a fine.

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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