TRAMORE native Conor Hayes has warned of the dangers that Irish people face in Dubai, following his imprisonment over an alleged obscene gesture.
Mr Hayes, who was interviewed in RTE’s ‘Better Off Abroad’ documentary, was imprisoned and deported from the United Arab Emirates after losing a three-year, €120,000 legal battle.
Speaking to George Lee, Mr Hayes contended that his case was an injustice caused by the nation’s class system.
The teacher and former Rose of Dubai presenter went on to explain the event in which the taxi he and his wife were travelling in were forced to stop only to be confronted by an individual who acted in an aggressive manner.
“I got out and asked what was wrong and next thing I know he’s calling the police,” Conor explained. “It was only when I tried to reason with him when everything changed. He said, ‘you, be quiet – I am policeman,’ before speaking in Arabic. Luckily, one of our friends was fluent and he translated – he was accusing me of making an obscene gesture.”
Despite fighting the accusation, Conor lost, resulting in a three month sentence in Al Aweer prison and a subsequent deportation.
“I interfered with the social pecking order. In hindsight I shouldn’t have argued that the policeman did anything wrong. Also, the taxi driver was Nepalese – emigrants are widely regarded as being of a lower class in the UAE.
“The hardest thing was passing time. I saw my wife three times, which was the maximum allowed.”
While Conor went on to say that no place in the world is perfect, he had a word of warning for those tempted by a life in the affluent oil state.
“Dubai has a lot of dark and hidden dangers that people need to be aware of. You must respect their culture because if you don’t, you will be in trouble.”