Brit is jailed for three months in Dubai after appealing £2,000 fine he received for insulting airport staff who didn’t fetch his mother a wheelchair – and court rules it was too lenient
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A British tourist’s plan to appeal a hefty fine for abusing airline staff in Dubai backfired as they were slapped with a much harsher three-month jail sentence and deportation.
Hit with a £2,000 fine for using ‘very bad language’ towards an employee earlier this year, the traveller took the case back to court to appeal the penalty but on November 6 was handed a spell in prison instead.
The Dubai Court of Appeal heard how he had insulted a member of airline staff after being told they could not immediately bring him a wheelchair to ferry his mother to a shuttlebus last February.
In her testimony, the victim told judges she was sworn at after explaining the airport’s policy to the man. ‘I told the traveller that using such offensive language is not allowed at Dubai airport but he responded that he didn’t care,’ she said.
Police were later notified and the passenger was fined Dh10,000 (about £2,156.22) at the Dubai Criminal Court.
Planes prepare to take off at Dubai Airport on February 20, 2016. Dubai DXB is the primary international airport in the UAE and is the world’s busiest by international passenger traffic
During her testimony, the employee recounted that she was working in the transit area of Terminal 2 at Dubai Airport when the passenger approached with queries about their flight.
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She told them they would need to go to Terminal 3 and that a shuttlebus was available to take them.
At this point, she said, the passenger asked for a wheelchair to help move his mother to the bus.
She pointed out that a chair would be made available for them before she got on the bus, at which point the passenger left.
They later came back, saying that another passenger near the bus had a wheelchair.
But when the employee tried to clarify the airline’s policy on wheelchair services, he snapped.
‘When I tried to explain it to him, he insulted me using very bad language,’ she said.
Asked not to swear, the British tourist replied that he did not care and the employee called the police.
A case was later filed against the traveller, who was fined by Dubai’s Criminal Court.
Dubai enforces strict penalties for a number of crimes that have caught tourists out over the years.
Swearing in public is illegal. The UK government warns: ‘Swearing and making rude gestures (including online) are considered obscene acts and offenders can be jailed or deported.
‘Take particular care when dealing with the police and other officials.’
While tourists are allowed to drink at home and in licensed venues, Brits cannot expect to be able to drink in public and face strict rules and regulations around purchasing, transporting and consuming booze in Dubai.
Dubai International Airport in 2021. A passenger faces jail after they ‘verbally abused’ a member of staff at the airport in February this year
Penalties for carrying drugs into the country are some of the most severe, the foreign office warning: ‘The penalties for trafficking, smuggling and possession of drugs (even residual amounts) are severe.
‘Sentences for drug trafficking can include the death penalty and possession of even the smallest amount of illegal drugs can lead to a minimum three-month prison term or a fine not less than AED 20,000 and not exceeding AED100,000.’
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