British woman
Dubai. Image by Ahmad Ardity from Pixabay

A British woman has been detained and faces a R2 million (AED500,000) fine in Dubai after her flatmate reported her for saying ‘f**k you’ in a private WhatsApp row during the lockdown.

She has admitted sending a ‘f*** you’ message during a row over the use of a dining room table last October.

The MailOnline reported that the 31-year-old unnamed women face charges under the United Arab Emirate’s (UAE) strict cyber-crime laws.

Saying ‘f*** you’ is considered a crime in Dubai, as the word “disgraces the honour or the modesty” of a person, according to Article 373 of the UAE Penal Code. Using swear words on social media or messaging platforms is also considered a breach of cyber law.

The Briton, who has asked not to be named, has been told the criminal case against her will not proceed until forensic teams with Dubai police have examined her mobile phone, the MailOnline reported.

The British woman, who works as an HR manager, told MailOnline that “this is just a nightmare and the thought of losing my new job is too much.

“I’ve no apartment and no job and no money. My visa to stay here runs out on February 12th and the police just don’t seem to understand.

‘I’m banging my head against a brick wall. No one cares.”

WhatsApp
WhatsApp. Image by Beatriz Jacob from Pixabay

She has begged her Ukraine flatmate to drop the case against her – but said she had refused.

Radha Stirling, CEO of the Detained in Dubai legal firm, has described the situation as a “nightmare.”

Stirling said in a press release: “The UAE has criminalised practically every visitor to the country under their vague and poorly drafted Cybercrime laws.”

Stirling founded Detained in Dubai in 2008 and has since helped and advised more than 15,000 foreign nationals facing trouble in the UAE.

She added: “Today’s news really hit home for the woman, who has never been in trouble in her life.  She is entangled in an alien legal system and the seriousness of a simple WhatsApp message sent to a fellow European in the heat of an argument, is difficult to comprehend.  It is a nightmare for her.

“This situation is incredibly common, but most cases are not brought to the media.  Even if she were only issued a small fine, she would still be processed through the legal system and held in Dubai for months.

“This alone can ruin lives and cause significant financial and emotional damage.  Imagine facing all of this over a simple WhatsApp message sent in private.”

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