Dubai: The British embassy has reminded 100,000 UK expats in the UAE ahead of the World Cup semi-final match between England and Croatia to respect local laws during the live broadcast and revelry at watering holes across the country on Wednesday.
Runaway fervour could land fans in hot water with UAE authorities as evidenced earlier this momth when an exuberant UK expatriate apparently jumped on to a Dubai Marina pub table in front of hundreds of Three Lions’ fans and stripped naked.
The unusual display stunned onlookers watching the last-16 match penalties win by England against Colombia in the wee hours of July 4.
A video of the overzealous football fan was posted online and his long-term prospects in the UAE quickly took a dimmer view as Dubai Police investigate the incident.
Unconfirmed reports said the man has fled the country to avoid prosecution.
English football fans are in high spirits given it is their team’s first appearance in the World Cup semi-finals since 1990.
The last and only time England won the World Cup title was in 1966, making the possibility of England being in the final match this coming Sunday an even more emotional rollercoaster for fans.
“We at the British embassy in the UAE have been enjoying this year’s World Cup, particularly the fantastic run that the England team are enjoying,” said the British embassy in a statement on Tuesday.
“Wherever you’re enjoying the football, ensure that you are aware of and respecting the local laws and customs. For more information on the laws and customs in the UAE, please check the UK’s Travel Advice: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/united-arab-emirates,” the embassy said in a statement sent to Gulf News on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Dubai Police are investigating the man’s impromptu public shenanigans, a senior officer confirmed to Gulf News on Tuesday.
A video was circulated on WhatsApp of the man on a table, stark naked with an alcoholic drink in his hand. The 18-second video shows the man dancing on the table.
Brigadier Abdul Raheem Bin Shafee, director of Al Barsha Police Station, told Gulf News that they are looking into the matter after they noticed the video going viral on social networks.
“Such kinds of acts are against the law here in the UAE. It is public indecency act by the man. There is freedom here, but people shouldn’t abuse the freedom in this way. We are investigating the incident and will identify the man and the one who recorded the video and circulated it online,” Brig Bin Shafee said.
“He should know the laws in the country,” the official sai, admonishing him for the “shameful behavior”.
Public nudity against the law
So precisely how worried should overzealous World Cup revellers be if they flout strict decency laws?
■ Article 121 of the amended Federal Penal Law No. 3, 1987, says it’s up to a judge’s discretion to order the deportation of any expatriate who is jailed for a crime or misdemeanour.
■ A deportation order becomes compulsory when a suspect commits a crime against someone’s privacy, honour or dignity. According to the same Article, a court can instantly deport a suspect in a misdemeanour crime instead of giving a jail sentence.
■ The fifth section of the same law concerning crimes against honour and dignity, Article 358, stipulates that a suspect who commits an indecent gesture in public faces a minimum of six months in jail, and any suspect who breaches the privacy, honour or dignity of a minor under the age of 15, in public or in private, faces minimum one year in jail.
■ Flashing a middle finger, scratching or touching one’s private parts in an unacceptable and indecent manner before others, urinating, exposing private parts, showing private parts in front of surveillance cameras, showing affection or exaggerated intimacy, having or being involved in any form of sexual activity in public (in any open place such as the beach, in a car, in a public toilet) or pecking someone’s cheek or kissing are acts that are, in most incidents, deemed as public indecency.
■ Those who are charged with committing an indecent act in public are referred to the Dubai Misdemeanour Court. They could face between one month and a maximum of three years in prison. Yet punishment is often left to the judge’s discretion.
With inputs by Bassam Za'za', Legal and Court Correspondent