The parents of a British man facing a three-year jail sentence in Dubai for putting his hand on a man so he did not “bump and spill drinks” have urged people to stop visiting the country.
Jamie Harron, from Stirling, was arrested for alleged public indecency and drinking alcohol at the Rock Bottom Bar on July 15. He has been stripped of his passport and will appear in court in a fortnight for further legal proceedings.
The electrician had been working in Afghanistan and was on a two-day stopover in Dubai when the incident happened. He has since lost his job and has spent more than £32,000 in expenses and legal fees.
His distraught father Graham said: “Patricia [Jamie’s mother] and I have not been able to relax for a moment. We never dreamed we would have to face something like this.
“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.
“People have to stop visiting that country. I think it is unacceptable that the FCO actually promotes the UAE to British tourists.”
Patricia said: “I’m up all night worrying...There’s no chance of sleep.”
Jamie, who spent five days sharing a cell with a single mattress with eight men, said: “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.
“This has broken me, financially and emotionally.”
FCO advice for travel in the UAE warns terrorists are likely to carry out attacks in the region and highlights: “The UAE is a Muslim country. Laws and customs are very different to those in the UK. You should respect local traditions, customs, laws and religions at all times. There may be serious penalties for doing something that might not be illegal in the UK.”
Graham added: “We can’t believe this nightmare has gone on for three months. Jamie is a good boy, he is never a problem and never in trouble.
“The UK embassy has not done anything to help and seem to think it is absolutely fine for British nationals to be abused in this way.
“Since Jamie was arrested I have researched and found that this is more common than any of us think.
“Where are the embassy staff who should be offering emotional and practical support to both Jamie in the UAE and his family back home in Stirling?”
Jamie is said to have been moving through the 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”.
Campaign group Detained in Dubai said he was then locked up for five days in Al Barsha prison, before being released after bail with his passport confiscated.
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,” she added.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office said it was providing consular assistance on the matter.