A British woman jailed for kissing a man in public in Dubai today spoke of the "hypocrisy" of the Emirate's strict decency laws.
Charlotte Adams was arrested with Ayman Najafi last November after a local woman complained they had been seen kissing on the mouth in a restaurant.
Ms Adams, an estate agent, and Mr Najafi insisted they had given each other only a peck on the cheek but were sentenced to a month in prison by a Dubai court last month.
The 26-year-old, from Mersea Island, Essex, served 23 days and was freed on Friday and deported.
Mr Najafi, a management consultant from north London who has lived in Dubai for the past 18 months, is understood to be continuing his fight against the conviction after being backed by his employers.
Ms Adams told The Mail on Sunday of her relief at being reunited with her family, including twin brother Christopher and sister Emma, 20.
She said: "It is such a relief. I've thought of nothing else for the last few months.
"I love (Dubai) and it makes me sad that I'll never come back, although I think I'd struggle to ever feel free here again.
"The laws need to evolve to match the culture here. At the moment, it's all just hypocrisy."
She said hotels in Dubai regularly offer free alcohol, particularly to women, though drinking in public is still officially illegal in the Gulf state.
"Everyone gets so drunk they forget where they are, particularly the Westerners, which is when their behaviour can become dangerous legally."
The British Embassy issued a formal "don't-do" list on its website, warning against drinking and kissing or holding in hands in public in Dubai. It tells holidaymakers and expats: "If you want to face possible arrest and imprisonment, ignore the advice."
In 2008, two Britons accused of having sex on the beach were sentenced to three months in jail, although their sentences were later suspended.
Ms Adams met Mr Najafi through friends and admitted she found him attractive, but insisted it was nothing more than "flirting".
"I would have spoken to Ayman and touched his arm. I was probably flirting with him a bit, tossing my hair and being a bit girly.
"I may have pecked him on the cheek at one point. But we weren't drunk and I would never have snogged someone in the middle of a crowded restaurant, especially in Dubai and especially as Ayman's friends were there."
After their arrest on November 27, she described being held in a cell at a police station with up to 100 other women.
"The stench hits you when you walk in. There was just a room filled with stained mattresses so close they had been pushed up the walls. There were 100 women in there that night, with two or three to each mattress and just one toilet which was basically a hole in the floor which made me heave because of the smell."
Reflecting on her ordeal, she added: "If my case has stopped other people from doing something more serious, then it's been worth it.
"This hasn't destroyed me, it hasn't changed me. I can wake up tomorrow and feel normal. I don't feel scarred by it and I'm not ashamed of my behaviour. I know who I am and I'm proud of that."Reuse content