From the Daily Telegraph in Sydney published 1 May '09. The article is about the Australian man, Darren O'Mullane, who was imprisoned for 24 days then deported from the UAE with a life ban stamped in his passport, for giving 'the finger' to an Emirati driver who cut him off on the motorway. Now that he's back in Australia Mr O'Mullane makes observations that he didn't feel free to make while he was here in Dubai.
IT was a gesture many Australians have been guilty of making at the end of a long, frustrating day.
But "flipping the bird" to another driver landed Australian nurse Darren O'Mullane 24 days in jail and a life ban from the United Arab Emirates.
Mr O'Mullane was deported from Dubai last Thursday after being convicted of making a rude gesture to another motorist, who happened to be a UAE official, last October.
Now he is back living at his parents' North Coast home.
He told The Daily Telegraph yesterday his wife Marie had been forced to leave her job in Dubai, along with the couple's home, cars and pet cat, following his sentence.
While he admitted he had done the wrong thing, Mr O'Mullane said he had been tired and stressed out after a 13-hour shift in the intensive care unit of Dubai's American Hospital.
"We'd had a local Emirate man suffering alcohol withdrawal who was aggressive and violent and a schizophrenic woman who was in quite a bad state when she arrived," he said.
"I just wanted to get home and there was a clown in front of me who was all over the road, talking on his mobile and I ended up having to overtake him to get past him. Out of frustration I flipped him the bird. I know it was wrong but it was completely impulsive. I was just like, 'You idiot'."
Mr O'Mullane said the other driver then tailgated him, overtook his car, slammed on his brakes and followed him to his apartment where a short altercation took place, with the other driver then reporting him to police.
Despite making a full confession and offering several apologies to the Dubai man, he spent 24 days in jail and was then immediately deported.
Mr O'Mullane said he engaged a lawyer to appeal against the sentence, but was unsuccessful. He and his wife approached the Australian consulate but were told staff "could not be seen to be showing bias" by helping him.
Mr O'Mullane said his experience was a warning to other Australians to be vigilant overseas, especially in countries ruled under Sharia law.
"I don't want anyone to go through what my wife and I have been through," he said.
"They make up the rules as they go along. People are being imprisoned for crazy things like kissing in public - the punishment doesn't fit the crime.
"It's just not safe there."