Tramore Man Jailed In Dubai For “Obscene Gesture” Warns Of City’s Strict Laws
Tramore man Conor Hayes, who alleges he was falsely imprisoned for an “obscene gesture” has warned travellers of Dubai’s hidden dangers.
Mr Hayes was imprisoned and deported after an incident involving a taxi in January 2011.
Now, after losing a €120,000 legal battle, the Tramore native is warning those travelling to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), where citizens can be imprisoned for public drunkenness and living with a partner outside of marriage.
Mr Hayes, who is a teacher by qualification and also managed an Irish soccer team in Dubai, had lived in the UAE for 11 years with his wife Bernie and even hosted the Dubai section of the Rose of Tralee previously.
Mr Hayes described the events to RTE’s “Irish Abroad” Programme, in which a taxi he and his wife were sharing was forced to pull in and an angry exchange with a policeman followed.
He explained: “I said, ‘What’s wrong, what’s the problem?’ Your man said he was calling the police. I said, ‘What are you on about, calling the police, he did nothing wrong?’ Then everything changed. He said, ‘You be quiet, I am policeman’. One of our friends spoke Arabic and he said, ‘He’s after accusing you of an obscene gesture’. They took me off to the police station and then it looked like this was serious.”
Mr Hayes fought the case for three years, but lost and was jailed for one month. He issued the following warning to those planning to travel to the UAE:
“My mistake was that I interfered with the pecking order of the UAE. No place in the world is perfect. I would never speak badly of their law. But I would also say to people who are going to Dubai, it has a lot of hidden dark dangers people need to be aware of. They must be careful, they must respect the culture. If you don’t you are in trouble.”