A Scot whose family feared he could spend three years in a Dubai jail has reportedly been sentenced to three months in prison for touching a man’s hip.
Jamie Harron (27) from Stirling has been detained in the United Arab Emirates since July following bizarre accusations of an alleged public indecency offence.
Although the UAE has licensed premises where alcohol is legally consumed he was initially jailed for a month for drinking beer.
Further charges alleged he had touched a man’s hip, and the case was processed through the UAE justice system even although the complainant - a German of Jordanian descent - later withdrew the allegation.
Mr Harron, who had been working in Afghanistan, has lost his job and is said to be heavily in debt because of the case.
He has described the incident as a cultural misunderstanding, and that he had only touched the alleged victim because he was trying to avoid spilling his drink.
News channels reported today that Mr Harron has been jailed for three months, following which he will be deported from Dubai, and that his lawyers aim to appeal.
It’s understood that while alcohol is not completely outlawed in the UAE only people holding a personal liquor licence - and who are not Muslim - are allowed to consume it.
Anyone using, for example, a hotel bar without such a licence risks arrest.
As a further complication a licence only entitles someone to drink in the town for which it is issued - so a licence in Dubai would only be valid in Dubai, and not the other Emirates.
The UAE also has a ban on a wide range of other types of behaviour which carry no penalties in western countries.
Homosexuality is illegal, and all relationships outside heterosexual marriage are also illegal - you cannot legally share accommodation with someone of the same sex, or of the opposite sex if you are not married to them.
Women are expected to dress modestly in public areas, with arms and legs covered, and cross-dressing is illegal.
Smoking is heavily regulated, and electronic cigarettes are illegal.