A Dubai court sentenced British DJ Raymond Bingham, better known as Grooverider, to four years in jail on Tuesday, three months after he was caught in possession of marijuana.
The 40-year-old disc jockey was arrested at Dubai airport on Nov. 23 when customs officials found a transparent bag containing 2.16 grams of marijuana in his luggage.
Grooverider, who co-hosts a weekly "drum and bass" music show on BBC Radio 1 with fellow DJ Fabio, was not in court for sentencing. He remains in custody and has two weeks to appeal.
Bingham began his career on pirate radio and was key to the development of "drum and bass" dance music in the 1990s.
The Briton, who flew to Dubai to play a set at a top nightclub, had previously said he was not aware the drug was in his luggage and had no intention of smuggling into Dubai.
"This is the minimum that you get by law but we will do our best, especially since he confessed and has cooperated with the authorities," defense lawyer Mohammed Suweidi told Reuters.
Zero tolerance policy
Dubai, one of the seven emirates comprising the United Arab Emirates federation, has a zero tolerance drug policy.
Under UAE law, drug trafficking carries a sentence ranging from four years jail to death, though executions are rare. Foreigners convicted of bringing drugs into the Gulf trade and tourism hub normally face jail terms followed by deportation.
Dubai, the Gulf's trade and tourism hub, is home to a large expatriate community and is known as the glitzy nightlife capital of a conservative Muslim region.
The head of Fair Trials International, a charity that works for fair trials of people held outside their home country, said the UAE authorities were using highly sensitive equipment capable of detecting minute traces of drugs on visitors.
"We have seen a steep increase in such cases over the last 18 months," Fair Trials International Chief Executive Catherine Wolthuizen said.
"With the UAE becoming one of the most popular tourist and transit destinations in the world ... travelers need to know the risks they face if they are not completely clean," she said.
High-profile drugs cases in the UAE have included U.S. music producer Dallas Austin, who has worked with Michael Jackson and Madonna. He was given a four year jail term for possessing cocaine and other drugs.
One of Bingham's lawyers, Mohammad al-Reda, helped Austin secure a pardon for in 2006.