The incident happened in February as Jamil Ahmed Mukadam was driving to the airport in Dubai, but it was only when he returned on Sept. 10 for a second holiday that he was arrested.
Mukadam, who works in IT for the British government, said a vehicle came up close behind him and started flashing their headlights, when he flicked his middle finger at the driver. But he said he “thought nothing more of it.”
It was when he arrived back at Dubai airport on Sept. 10, and presented his passport that the authorities were alerted and he was arrested.
He told British national The Sun that he was later released on bail, but his passport was confiscated.
Describing the initial incident, he told The Sun: “It’s the kind of thing that happens in England all the time. You don’t go to jail for it.”
But in the UAE, raising your middle finger to someone is a criminal offense – it is well documented, with other people having been jailed in the country before.
It is also illegal to use threatening or offensive language in the UK, although it is rare that people are jailed for such an offense.
A spokesman for the UK Foreign Office told the BBC: “We are assisting a British man who was detained in Dubai and remain in contact with the local authorities.”
Mukadam says he did not know there was case against him in Dubai. He has already been charge with indecency and could face a jail term of at least six months and a fine.
According to data released by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office under British freedom of information laws, Dubai has detained the second highest number of Britons between 2015 and the summer, according to London daily the Evening Standard.
The number stands at 524, while the most Britons were detained in Alicante (655), while the third highest amount was in Bangkok (454), closely followed by Miami (445) and Malaga (441).