A British tourist requested wheelchair assistance for his mother while transferring between terminals in Dubai. He didn’t like the answer that a wheelchair would be provided but that he should wait for an inter-terminal bus without him, since he saw another passenger already had one. Trying to escalate his request for assistance, things got heated. Police were called. He used swear words.
He was fined $2,723. He appealed the verdict, and a court found that it was too lenient. He is instead sentenced to 3 months’ incarceration.
“I saw the traveller repeatedly asking an airport desk employee about the wheelchair and expected that he might have not understood her explanation,” the airport employee said in court.
“When I tried to explain it to him [the defendant], he insulted me using very bad language.”
The passenger was told not to use that sort of language, that it wasn’t allowed in the airport, but he responded that he did not care.
I was just in Dubai about a week ago, and have been many times. In general tourists are fine, even when their behavior runs afoul of local custom. But when they call attention to themselves, those otherwise-dormant laws can be enforced. For instance, while Emirates serves alcohol public intoxication is a crime. An American was once arrested in Dubai for smoking pot in Las Vegas, before his trip.
Several Mideast countries can be criticized heavily for this, but it’s hardly unique to the Gulf region. Americans violate laws all the time, usually without consequence, however once you’re the target of an investigation everyday lawbreaking becomes an issue.