Ayman Najafi, 24, who lives in Dubai, and Charlotte Adams, 25, an estate agent from North London, were reported to police by a fellow diner who claimed their display of affection had been offensive and indecent
They were arrested and sentenced to a month in prison after which they were told they would be deported.
But the pair told a hearing at the Dubai Appeal Court
yesterday that they were the victims of a "huge misunderstanding" and had simply exchanged a friendly greeting.
"We kissed each other on the cheek as a greeting, nothing more
,” Mr Najafi told Judge Aysar Fouad
. Miss Adams pointed at her cheek to show where contact had taken place.
Miss Adams, who was privately educated, and Mr Najafi met along with four other friends for dinner at Bob's Easy Diner
on the beachfront at the Jumeirah Beach Residence
complex, which is popular with Westerners
The police were called at around 2am by an Emirati
woman sitting at a nearby table with her children and claimed her daughter had been upset by the display of affection.
"My daughter told me that the accused were kissing on the mouth
,” she said.
“Then I spotted them doing so myself. I also saw them touching each other, as they were seated two to three metres away from our table. A number of customers witnessed the scene as well
After being arrested, the two were tested for alcohol and shown to have been drinking, though the readings of 22mg/dl are less than the drink-drive limit in Britain
At a first court hearing, after they were arrested on November 27, their defence lawyer Khalaf al Hosany said the couple admitted kissing each other on the cheek but denied any intention to break the law.
“It’s part of their culture to kiss on cheeks as a greeting,
” he told the judge.
But their pleas of not guilty to indecency were rejected and they were sentenced to a month in prison followed by deportation.
They were also fined 1000 dirham (180 pounds) for being in a public place after consuming alcohol - an offence in Dubai, though drinking alcohol itself is not.
Mr Najafi has lived in Dubai for 18 months, where he works as a consultant for the Hay Group
, a marketing firm.
Speaking after the appeal hearing, he said he was appealing to clear his name, he said: “I could have accepted the sentence, but I believe I have done nothing wrong and I want to stand up for that
." The court has reserved its verdict on the until April 4.
An official in Dubai claimed that Miss Adams had flown out to visit Mr Najafi and was staying with him as his girlfriend.
However, she told The Daily Telegraph yesterday that she was staying with another friend and Mr Najafi was simply an old friend.
"Ayman and I are not or have ever have been a couple
," she said.
Her flatmate Jade Christa Williams
, acting as a spokesman for Miss Adams, said what had happened was simply "a huge misunderstanding". “Charlotte is not at all disrespectful of Dubai’s laws and fully understands their culture
," she said.
"She is completely innocent and is looking forward to coming home soon to carry on with her life and put this behind her
Mr Najafi's brother Amier said he would not have been reckless enough to break the law.
"My brother obviously knew the rules when he went out there but in the Emirates they always take the word of locals against foreigners
," he said.
"He doesn't want to do anything to make the situation worse than it is and he understands that trying to put pressure on the Dubai authorities could backfire. But he's absolutely clear that he only kissed the girl on the cheek
Miss Adams' mother Lorraine Cope
, from Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk,
is in regular contact with her daughter, who remains on bail but without her passport while her appeal is processed.
"I speak to Charlotte every day,
" she said. "I had to break the news to her grandparents today and it's Mother's Day
"I haven't heard from the Foreign Office and I can't discuss anything about what's happened
The two are not the first Britons to fall foul of the strict laws in the conservative Muslim state. Last year Michelle Palmer
, 36, and Vince Acors
, 34, were sentenced to three months imprisonment for having sex on a beach.