Sally Antia, 43, was arrested as she left a Dubai hotel with a man. Appearing in a court in Dubai on Sunday, she confessed to cheating on her husband and paying to fly her lover from Britain to the United Arab Emirates. The 44-year-old man denied the charge.
The pair had their passports confiscated. Mrs Antia, who had spent three weeks in police custody before the hearing, was denied bail.
It is understood that Mrs Antia’s husband, Vincent, 48, also believed to be British, informed the police of his suspicions this month. Divorce proceedings are under way between the couple.
“[Mrs Antia] is mortified,” The Sun reported a source as saying. “Her husband has wrought the ultimate revenge. She is trying to come to terms with the fact that her life and career could lie in tatters.
“No one here believes she would be able to cope with prison. She has two children and she’s desperately worried about what will happen to them.”
Adultery is illegal in the United Arab Emirates. The maximum punishment is a year in jail followed by deportation. Another British woman, Marnie Pearce, served a three-month prison sentence this year and lost residency rights with her two young sons after her Egyptian former husband accused her of cheating on him while living in Dubai.
Mrs Pearce, 40, originally from Bracknell, Berkshire, has been allowed since her release to stay in the country to try to win back her children.
She said that she had lost more than a stone while she was at al-Awir prison. “Many of the women seemed to have psychological problems and should probably have been in a hospital,” she said. “I kept muttering that I shouldn’t be there.”
She also told The Mail on Sunday that she had not been allowed to speak during a number of court appearances, which were conducted in Arabic, and that a translator had been present only at one hearing.
Mr and Mrs Antia, originally from Liverpool, have been living in Dubai for more than a decade and have been married for 14 years. Mrs Antia is believed to have worked for a corporate entertainment company.
She wrote recently on her page on the networking website Friends Reunited: “Living in Dubai for the last 12 years. Married with two girls now aged 11 and 13. Enjoying the sunshine, but often home to watch a match. Massive Red fan. Happy and healthy … what more can you ask for?”
Mrs Antia was arrested at 2.30am outside the Radisson SAS Deira Creek Hotel. Her detention will prompt criticism from those who reject the UAE’s practice of combining civil and criminal law with Sharia, which is identified in the constitution as the main source of legislation. Social laws, such as family law and succession, all fall under its direct influence.
Tim Hancock, of Amnesty International, who campaigned for the release of Mrs Pearce, said yesterday: “Sally Antia should not be sent to prison. The sex lives of consenting adults simply shouldn’t be a criminal matter. She should be released, immediately and unconditionally.”
A Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokeswoman said: “We can confirm the arrest of two British nationals in Dubai for adultery on May 2. Their cases are going through the courts in Dubai. Next of kin have been informed and we are providing consular assistance.”
The court case has been adjourned until next month.