A British woman in Dubai is facing 2 years after she was apprehended by the police for saying ‘f*** you’ to her Ukrainian roommate. We all know how swearing isn’t a good thing to do, but who could have thought a simple act of expressing your feelings could land you in jail!  

The news comes straight from Dubai where a 31-year-old woman who lived with her Ukrainian flat mate in Dubai was apprehended by the Dubai Police from the airport. The woman, who is an HR manager from the UK made the nasty ‘f’ word comment to her roommate in October last year in a heated argument on WhatsApp. According to reports, the argument was about who used the dining table for work during the COVID-19 lockdown.  

The woman, after finding a new job in the UK recently, decided to leave the UAE permanently and move back to her country. However, the Dubai Police had different plans for the woman. The woman was apprehended from the airport as she was about to leave Dubai. The police told her that she couldn’t leave the country as there’s a case registered against her.  

The woman had already shipped her belongings to the UK and is now in a pickle of a situation. She alleged that even after begging her roommate to drop the case, the case still stays. As it turns out, now the 31-year-old faces up to 2-years in jail or paying thousands of pounds of fine.  

The woman spoke to the media and described her situation saying, “I’ve never been in trouble in my life, and I’m shocked that I’ve been criminalised over a private WhatsApp exchange with someone whom I lived with.” “What’s worse?” She added, “The messages were from months ago and only now, when I’ve shipped all of my belongings, booked a flight and when my visa is about to expire, do I even find out about this case. I tried to plead with her to drop the case, but she doesn’t seem to care about the impact this is having.” 

Although UAE prides itself on its world-class healthcare options along with employment opportunities for foreigners and natives alike, its stringent conduct towards human rights has always raised eyes from time to time.  

As per the Emeriti law, using the ‘F’ word, or any other abuse is a criminal offense, irrespective of the person’s nationality as it “disgraces the modesty of another person”. Article 373 of Penal Code states: “Detention for a period not exceeding one year or a fine not exceeding Dh10.000 shall be imposed upon anyone who, by any means of publicity, disgraces the honour or the modesty of another person without attributing any particular act to the defamed party. Swearing by flashing the middle finger is considered an “indecent gesture” that breaches “a victim’s pride, privacy and/or modesty”.” 

A similar incident made the news in 2017. A British man raised his middle finger at another driver on the streets of Dubai and was eventually arrested for his “offensive behaviour”. In 2016, a woman in Ajman was fined Dhs 1,50,000 after being accused of breaching her husband’s privacy after transferring photos from his phone to hers using WhatsApp.  

It’s not just the swear words on social media platforms that can get you in trouble. Using ‘swearing’ emojis, such as middle finger emoji, etc, is also illegal and a person accused of this crime can face jail time or a fine up to Dhs. 2,50,000.  

Also read: UAE amends Emirati Nationality Law to grant citizenship to foreigners with special skills