British tourist faces jail over 'kiss on cheek'
After flying out to Dubai to meet an old friend, Charlotte Adams maintains that all she did was greet him with a kiss on the cheek. But the show of affection has led to her facing a month in jail.
The 25-year-old estate agent from north London was reported to police by a diner at the restaurant where she met Ayman Najafi, a fellow Briton who lives in Dubai.
The diner, a mother who was with her children, claimed that the pair's behaviour was indecent. Both were arrested and brought before a court where they were sentenced to a month in prison and told they would be deported on their release.
Yesterday, the pair told a hearing at the Dubai Appeal Court that they were the victims of a "huge misunderstanding".
"We kissed each other on the cheek as a greeting, nothing more," Mr Najafi (24), told a judge. Miss Adams pointed at her cheek to show where contact took place.
The hearing was the latest episode in an ordeal which began for the couple back on November 27 when Ms Adams, whose family are from Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, and Mr Najafi met along with four other friends at Bob's Easy Diner at the Jumeirah Beach Residence complex, which is hugely popular with Westerners.
The police were called at around 2am by an Emirati woman at a nearby table who claimed that her daughter had been upset.
"My daughter told me that the accused were kissing on the mouth," she said.
"Then I spotted them doing so myself. I also saw them touching each other, as they were seated two to three metres away from our table. A number of customers witnessed the scene as well."
After their arrest, the two friends were found to have been drinking, though the readings were below the drink-drive limit in Britain.
At a first court hearing, they denied any intention to break the law. "It's part of their culture to kiss on cheeks as a greeting," their lawyer told the judge.
However, their not-guilty pleas to indecency were rejected. As well as the prison terms, they were fined 1,000 dirham (€200). Mr Najafi has lived in Dubai for 18 months and works as a consultant for the Hay Group, a marketing firm.
Speaking after the appeal hearing, he said: "I could have accepted the sentence but I believe I have done nothing wrong and I want to stand up for that." The court has reserved its verdict until April 4.
An official in Dubai claimed that Ms Adams was staying with Mr Najafi as his girlfriend. However, Ms Adams said she was staying with another friend and Mr Najafi was simply an old friend. "Ayman and I are not, nor have ever have been, a couple," she said.
Ms Adams's mother, Lorraine Cope, said: "I speak to Charlotte every day. I had to break the news to her grandparents today and it's Mother's Day. I haven't heard from the Foreign Office and I can't discuss anything about what's happened." (© Daily Telegraph, London)