Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Friendly flirting cost me


A British man jailed for a month and deported for public indecency said an innocent peck on the cheek had turned his life upside down.
Speaking for the first time since his release from Dubai Central Jail last week, management consultant Ayman Najafi said: “I was very happy in Dubai. I was going where I wanted to go. It was a very big shock to the system.” He and fellow Brit Charlotte Adams, 24, were both jailed after an Emirati woman told police she had seen them kiss and touch each other in the now infamous incident at a Jumeirah Beach Residence restaurant late last year.
The pair challenged the conviction in March, insisting they had only kissed on the cheek, but their appeal failed.
Najafi, 25, who had been living in Dubai for 18 months, explained how he, Adams and three friends stopped at Bob’s Diner, where an evening catching up with pals last November suddenly turned sour.
Najafi, who says the pair were not a couple and had only met a handful of times, said: “We were talking and laughing and possibly Charlotte and I were flirting but we weren’t being loud or drawing much attention to ourselves.
“About halfway through the conversation, I must have made a cheeky remark and Charlotte gave me a kiss on the cheek and I received it, I accepted it.

Bewildered by arrest
“We carried on talking and eating, paid the bill and then went.”
As the group left the restaurant, Najafi says two plain-clothed CID officers stopped them. He and Adams were both arrested.
Najafi says he was bewildered and it was hours before police explained why he had been detained.
“I was aware that you're not allowed to live with a female unless you're married and that public displays of affection are not allowed,” he said.
“But Dubai is a very deceiving place… there are local customs you need to be aware of but there are also a lot of grey areas.”
He and Adams (both pictured) were released on bail and told they would likely face a fine.
But weeks later, Najafi was jailed.
“I got emotional when I was in the van with 20 other criminals, handcuffed to one of them thinking you’re on your way to jail,” he said.
“You’ve just said goodbye to everyone and quit your job - it’s a surreal feeling.”
Now the ordeal is over, Najafi, who was speaking to the BBC in the UK, says that he is thrilled to be back at his home in London.
But he added: “I have really good friends in Dubai and I'm going to miss them. That’s the sad part.”
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