Two Britons have been sentenced to a month's imprisonment for indecency after a local woman took objection to them kissing in a restaurant, reports The Telegraph, London.
24-year-old Ayman Najafi, a marketing consultant who lives in Dubai, and Charlotte Adams, 25, an estate agent from North London, were said to have been touching each other and kissing passionately as they dined with friends in a beachfront restaurant.
They were arrested and sentenced to a month in prison after which they were told they would be deported.
But the pair told a hearing at the Dubai Appeal Court on Sunday that they were the victims of a "huge misunderstanding" and had simply exchanged a friendly greeting.
"We kissed each other on the cheek as a greeting, nothing more,” Najafi told Judge Aysar Fouad. Miss Adams pointed at her cheek to show where contact had taken place.
The two are not the first Britons to fall foul of the strict laws in the conservative Muslim state. Last year Michelle Palmer, 36, and Vince Acors, 34, were sentenced to three months imprisonment for having sex on a beach.
The latest incident took place when Adams and Najafi met along with four other friends for dinner at Bob's Easy Diner on the beachfront at the Jumeirah Beach Residence complex on November 27.
The police were called at around 2am by an Emirati woman sitting at a nearby table with her children and claimed her daughter had been upset by the display of affection.
"My daughter told me that the accused were kissing on the mouth,” she said.
“Then I spotted them doing so myself. I also saw them touching each other, as they were seated two to three metres away from our table. A number of customers witnessed the scene as well.”
After being arrested, the two were tested for alcohol and shown to have been drinking, though the readings of 22mg/dl are less than the drink-drive limit in Britain.
At the appeal hearing on Sunday, their defence lawyer Khalaf al Hosany said the couple admitted kissing each other on the cheek but denied any intention to break the law.
“It's part of their culture to kiss on cheeks as a greeting,” he told the judge.
But their pleas of not guilty to indecency were rejected and they were sentenced to a month in prison followed by deportation.
They were also fined 1000 dirham (180 pounds) for being in a public place after consuming alcohol – an offence in Dubai, though drinking alcohol itself is not.
Najafi has lived in Dubai for 18 months, where he works as a consultant for the Hay Group, a marketing firm.
Adams, 25, was visiting the country and staying with another friend. Her flatmate Jade Christa Williams, acting as a spokesman for Miss Adams, said what had happened was simply "a huge misunderstanding".
"She is completely innocent and is looking forward to coming home soon to carry on with her life and put this behind her," she said.
The pair were released on bail and are awaiting an April 4 verdict.