A British woman facing jail for kissing a man in public in Dubai insisted today that she ‘only kissed him on the cheek’.
Pretty blonde Charlotte Adams, 25, and Ayman Najafi, a British marketing executive, have both been convicted of indecency and illegal drinking.
During an appeal hearing in Dubai today the pair admitted they were drunk but denied passionately kissing and touching each other in public.
Khalaf al Hasani, the lawyer acting for the pair, told the judge that they shared a peck on the cheek which ‘is a normal greeting in their culture and not a crime.’
Miss Adams and Mr Najafi were arrested at a busy burger restaurant after a 38-year-old local woman claimed she spotted the pair kissing on the lips and stroking each others backs.
Mr Najafi, 24, of Palmers Green, north London, has been working in Dubai for the past 18 months for marketing firm Hay Group. Miss Adams, also from north London, is believed to have travelled to the Muslim state for a holiday.
Both were sentenced to a month in jail and told they would then be deported upon release at a court hearing last week. But the sentence was put on hold pending the outcome of today’s appeal.
The case once again highlights the difficulties faced by hundreds of thousands of Western tourists who travel to Dubai for a sunshine break each year.
Unmarried men and women from the West are finding that kissing and cuddling – behaviour they regard as normal – is prohibited, particularly in public, and carries stringent penalties.
Mr al Hasani told the judge that the prosecution’s main witness was not even sure of what she had seen and changed her story between versions.
‘The story came to light after an Emirati woman, who was with her children having a meal in the restaurant, saw the pair,’ he said.
‘She claimed she saw the two kissing each other in public and she called the police who came and arrested them. But later on she told the public prosecution that it was actually one of her children who saw my clients kissing and not her. She is not sure about the incident.
‘They both kissed each other on the cheek and that is a normal greeting in their culture, not a crime.’
Miss Adams and Mr Najafi were having dinner with six friends in November at the popular Jumeirah Beach Residence, a stretch of beachside cafes, when they were arrested.
Speaking from the family’s £425,000 home, Mr Najafi’s mother Maida said her son did not like public displays of affection and understood the laws in Dubai.
‘He knows the rules over there,’ she said. ‘He would never do that. He wouldn’t even do it over here. He said, “I haven’t done anything wrong mum, hopefully I will clear my name and then I can come back”.
‘He’s an unbelievable young man, strong, hard working, confident. He is doing so well.’
At an earlier hearing in Dubai’s Misdemeanours Court, the judge dismissed Mr Najafi’s claim that he merely kissed Miss Adams on the cheek.
During the five-minute hearing in Dubai’s Court of Appeal, Miss Adams, wearing a long black dress, told the judge: ‘I only kissed him on the cheek. I was drunk.’
Mr Najafi, who was smartly dressed in a black suit, also denied the charges and said he had been drunk at the restaurant. He added he had kissed Miss Adams on the cheek and said: ‘I am innocent.’
Mr al Hasani said the six friends could be called as defence witnesses to corroborate their innocence if the judge found against them. The pair have a second right of appeal if the first fails.
The pair were released on bail today and are expected to appear in court again on April 4 for a verdict on the appeal.
Mr Najafi contacted British consular staff in Dubai two weeks after he was arrested and was supplied with a list of lawyers.
A Foreign Office source said Miss Adams had not sought consular assistance, although she had also been arrested.
A spokesman said: ‘We are aware of the arrest of a British national. We do not have a consular case for the other person.’
Officials in Dubai have tended to adopt a relaxed approach when dealing with Western tourists and expatriates who have broken strict Islamic laws.
But the past few months have seen a crackdown on such behaviour, with a spate of court cases involving British holidaymakers being prosecuted for being drunk in public and having sex outside marriage.