View of part of the Fujairah Corniche and the Hajar Mountains in the Background

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

‘Sex on the Beach’ Case is Tarnishing UAE as Holiday Destination

Check the update on this case at this link.

Tourists must realize that the UAE beaches are not the French Riviera or Sydney’s Bondi beach where people strip off to sun themselves and engage in some touching.

The UAE’s laws are not always clear and consistently applied but the country prohibits women exposing too much flesh (particularly in the more conservative emirate of Sharjah).

It is improper to touch a member of the opposite sex in public and an unmarried man and woman are not allowed to associate by themselves in an apartment or a car.

There are strict laws governing the sale and consumption of alcohol.

The trial of a British couple accused of having sex on a Dubai beach was delayed today for another month because the woman “was declared too stressed by doctors to attend court.”

From several accounts the woman is on depressants, is suffering from anxiety and paranoia, has been in hiding since her arrest and has suffered ignominy through being exposed to the glare of the international media. There is a real sense in which significant punishment has already been dispensed.

The court case is damaging the UAE’s image as a popular tourist destination. The case has been dragging on for a long time due both to court procedures and the delay of the accused because of ill health.

Talk of a possible six year jail sentence for the accused is portraying an image of a country that is harsh, severe and uncompromising.

Enough has been made of this case to beam out to the world that there are different standards and values in this country. Tourists are getting the message that ‘anything does not go’ in the Emirates.

The UAE government has some responsibility for making clear the things one cannot do within its national borders. Some tourist information sites are seeking to give clarity but tourists on arrival are given nothing in the way of guidelines and warnings about UAE customs, laws and lifestyle.

It would be in the interests of both the co-accused and the UAE to dismiss the case and bring it to closure.

The President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai have recently exercised mercy in releasing hundreds of prisoners. (See the account in this report)

It would be good and timely to extend this Ramadan spirit to these tourists by dismissing the charges.

Some UAE Information for Tourists and New Residents:
What to Wear in the UAE?
Etiquette in the Emirates
Drug Laws in the UAE: Travellers Beware!
The UAE and the Law
UAE Information: Essential Guide for New Residents to the Emirates

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: “The UAE’s laws are not always clear and consistently applied but the country prohibits women exposing too much flesh.”