Saturday 22 September 2018

Tourist facing jail after touching man’s hip in Dubai bar speaks out: 'It has broken me’

Jamie Harron has been charged with drinking alcohol and public indecency
Jamie Harron has been charged with drinking alcohol and public indecency

Niamh McIntyre

A tourist facing jail in Dubai after touching a man’s hip has spoken out about his ordeal.

Jamie Harron, a Scottish electrician who was visiting Dubai during a stopover on a business trip to Afghanistan, appeared in court on Sunday.

Mr Harron’s lawyers say he brushed against the man in order to avoid spilling his drinks at the popular Rock Bottom Bar.

He was charged with drinking alcohol and public indecency, and is due in court again in a couple of weeks' time, although an exact date has not yet been fixed.

In a press release, the Scot said the ordeal had left him "broken financially and emotionally".

“The whole thing is like a horrible dream and I just don’t know when it is going to end. I thought it would be over by now but it feels like it will never be,” the statement said.

Mr Harron, who could face up to three years in jail, has lost his job and incurred more than £30,000 (€33,600) in expenses and legal fees, according to his family.

Read More: Tourist faces jail term in Dubai for 'touching man in bar to avoid spilling drink'

The 27-year-old’s parents have also spoken of their distress while waiting for their son to be sentenced.

Speaking to Detained in Dubai, a campaign group that represents foreign nationals arrested in the Gulf state, his father said: "[My wife] and I have not been able to relax for a moment. We never dreamed we would have to face something like this.

"We can't believe that this nightmare has gone on for three months. Jamie is a good boy. He has never been a problem and never in trouble.

"We are a very close family and it is killing us to think of him spending even three nights in jail, let alone three years."

He also attacked the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for promoting tourism to the region, saying: "People have to stop visiting that country.

"Since Jamie was arrested, I have researched and found that this is more common than any of us think.”

"It is unacceptable the FCO actually promotes the United Arab Emirates to British tourists."

Although tourists are permitted to drink alcohol in Dubai, they must first purchase a licence to do so.

Purchasing alcohol without a licence is a criminal offence, as is being under the influence of alcohol in public, according to the FCO.

The country’s indecency laws also prohibit kissing, dancing, swearing and making rude gestures in public.

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