Jamie Harron, 27, a British man on a two-day stopover in Dubai narrowly avoided imprisonment after being convicted of public indecency for touching a man’s hip in a Dubai bar. Harron who was arrested in July claimed that he only brushed against the man after trying not to spill his drink. He had also been given an additional month’s imprisonment for consuming alcohol. Luckily for him, the case was dropped the next day after the United Arab Emirates prime minister and ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, stepped in and pardoned him. Harron was stuck in Dubai for almost four months and has since then lost his job in Afghanistan and had to spend more than $54,000 in expenses and legal fees.
With the UAE becoming increasingly more popular to travel to for British tourists could be in great danger of accidentally breaking the law. For example, licensed hotels and bars can sell alcohol but tourists can still be arrested for having alcohol in their system in public. As well as this, public displays of affection are frowned upon and sex outside of marriage is prohibited meaning that unmarried couples have to stay in separate hotel rooms and hotels aren’t allowed to book anything where they will be alone with their partner.
However, it’s not just Dubai where tourists are getting caught out. Other popular holiday destinations are cracking down on rowdy tourists. Places like Croatia have started to heavily fine tourists as much as £620 for drinking alcohol, sleeping or eating in public as well as a £600 fine for wearing swimsuits in public or being topless. Four tourists were even charged with a £920 fine in Sardinia after trying to take sand home with them. Other popular destinations such as Spain and Greece are also charging tourists for unruly and drunken behaviour. With movies such as Bridget Jones’ Diary comically showing how easy it is to get arrested abroad, should we be asking ourselves whether countries are being too tough or should more be done to make British tourists aware that they could get into a lot of trouble for their actions?
The latest figures from the Office of National Statistics showing that in 2016 there were 70.8 million visits overseas by UK residents, which was 8% more than in 2015. UK residents also spent £43.8 billion on visits overseas in 2016, which was 12% more than in 2015. With the number of British people working and travelling abroad rising each year, this will probably not be the last case we will hear of.
If you ever find yourself or a loved one arrested aboard, visit the nearest British embassy and the government website at: https://www.gov.uk/help-if-you-are-arrested-abroad