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DUBAI: Sex on the beach, then prison


Vince_acorsA British couple whose drunken escapade involving sex on the beach led to tabloid headlines -- and a clash between Western permissiveness and Islamic values -- were sentenced Thursday by a Dubai court to three months in prison.

Vince Acors and Michelle Palmer were each sentenced to the prison term, fined $272 for drinking alcohol and ordered to be deported immediately upon leaving prison.

The pair was found guilty of having unmarried sex after a taxi had picked them up from a champagne brunch at a five-star hotel and drove them to Jumeirah beach in the United Arab Emirates’ most culturally-tolerant emirate of Dubai. 

The case, which grew out of a tryst on July 5, quickly became a morality tale set amid globalization and Dubai’s skyline of sharp-angled, glittering high-rises.

The emirate is a financial hub in the Middle East, catering to tourists and multi-billion dollar business deals. It is also an Islamic state straining to balance Western influence and wealth with religious traditions that forbid alcohol, un-married sex and homosexuality.

— Jeffrey Fleishman in Cairo

Photos: Vince Acors sentenced to three months for having sex on beach. Credit: Reuters; An Emirati man walks past Dubai Courts where the trial took place. Credit: KARIM SAHIB/AFP/Getty Images

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Comments () | Archives (16)

I have read all the comments with interest, and as is the case with many blogs, there is a wide range of views! Personally I feel that sex in a public place is offensive to the public, in the same way that seeing someone urinate in the street is offensive and unhygenic. The fact is I am not sure that the couple were having sex at all, but I could only support that opinion if I was in the courtroom and heard the evidence. What I do take offence to is the way that the authorities in Dubai seem to periodically 'make an example of Westerners' in order to keep the wider population happy and pay no attention to 'the right to a fair trial'. I have never been to the Middle East, and in the current climate, have no intention to visit a Muslim country, but I have many friends and colleagues who have lived and worked abroad. Most will agree that these countries are pleasant places to live in and bring up children, but ALL will be able to tell you of examples of injustice, fabricated evidence, circumstantial evidence etc that has led to a conviction, but I can list a dozen such examples of injustice reported in the UK in the past few years. No country is perfect, but if we apply the law consistently and observe each others basic rights I feel we can avoid anarchy! On a personal note, I did take a bit of an offence to the comments made by corntrader19 as I think society has a tendancy to believe in stereotypes. Whilst we in the UK know that there is a problem with yob-like behaviour in certain towns, cities and resorts both in the UK and abroad, we also know that 99.9% of the population can enjoy a drink and a holiday without vomiting, urinating in public, or fighting with the locals. The only problem is that this type of decent behaviour does not sell newspapers and start blogs. If you believed everything you read or watched in the media you'd think all Muslims were terrorists, all Americans were bent on world domination and there were perverts on every street corner waiting to snatch your kids!! I hope that everyone knows this is not the case? Finally, I honestly believe that if we spent the next 20 years focusing all our energy on creating a society that did not rely so heavily on oil, or other resources found in countries with completely different cultural and political values, then many of these clashes of culture and 'national interest' would just not happen. Maybe I'm dreaming? We'll just have to wait and see!

There is an old Western adage which, paraphrased, says. "If you don't like the laws, customs and ways in rome, then get the hell out and go to Paris."

Aiman bin Abdullah

Nobody is challenging the fact that having intercourse in public is wrong, it should however be noted that the couple totally disputes having intercourse. They have declared that they were just making out while laying on top of each other fully clothed.

What I find extremely repusling about Dubai is that they consider hugging, touching and kissing 'indecent behaviours', to the point where you can get jailed for kissing your own wife in public! Also, you can get jailed for having sex with your girlfriend in the privacy of a hotel room, as sex outside of marriage is also illegal in Dubai!

Fortunately, news stories such as this one will serve as warnings and educate people about the dangers of traveling to a Muslim country.

You could get arrested for sex on the beach in quite a few of the United States, and you could be fined. Alls it takes is an intrusive policing policy on the one hand, and indiscreet behavior on the other.

The motive in the USA for suppressing sexual behavior in out of the way places, like a beach at night, isn't all that much different than an Islamic country enforcing "religious traditions that forbid alcohol, unmarried sex and homosexuality."

The punitive, conservative Christian right would feel at home with the Islamic hierarchy's intolerance of
"alcohol, unmarried sex and homosexuality."

Unfortunately we can't scorn the Islamic conservatives until we have sucked up their oil. Once the oil is gone, we can criticize them in earnest.

Dubai, however, is probably not the most grotesque of our Arab friends. Saudi Arabia's religious/political climate, for instance, would probably be too much for all but the most fascistic of American conservatives.

The Arab Emirates may be tolerant but they don't have to tolerate people acting like animals. Foreigners say Americans behave badly but Brits are the worst. It's not unusual to hear of them urinating or having sex in public. It's disgusting. I'm glad they were arrested. They should know better.

Great place for a vacation.

This should put a big hole in their idea of Dubi competing with LasVegas and Monaco for the Tourist trade.

You could be arrested with laws you would never think would ever exist.

from the article it appears witnesses didn't agree with the policeman's report at all and medical exams lacked any evidence of sexual contact, but i am not surprised at dubai's decision to put this couple in jail, as the entire islamic nation are simply centuries behind the civilized world in so many aspects of conduct and respect for anyone other than islam religion that i seriously doubt we'll ever witness any improvement in relations with any islamic nation, which is so unfortunate because their religious leaders are brainwashing their youth thus creating millions and billions of future islamic people who will never be able to overcome the narrowness that not just islamic leaders teach a young mind but if you check history this is a disease that has affected all religions when teachings become so extreme as to be the single driving force of that person's will for the rest of his life, what a tragedy

I recently returned to the US after living in Dubai. This case shows the complicated situation you get into when liberalizing the middle east.

The people of Dubai and the police are very tolerant of Western culture and ignore the enforcement of most of their conservative laws when it comes to foreigners (and actually locals too). They keep these laws on the books not just out of religious commitment, but also so their courts have the option to impose strict penalties in the event of blatant disregard as in this case.

These two people showed the ultimate in disrespect to both law and the minority locals. The law would have ignored their personal indiscretions, including the sex, but not doing it in a public place! By the way, you can’t have sex in public in the US, UK, or nearly anywhere in the world, so all we’re really talking about here is severity of the punishment.

As I said, I lived in Dubai. With my girlfriend (illegal), held hands and kissed in public places (illegal). But we were respectful enough not to cross any lines that would cause offence. This is just common sense. We never felt oppressed, quite the opposite the native Arabs were quite warm and friendly. The police were NOT threatening, and actually I found them more friendly than here in the US.

Their law enforcement is fair, and I can say they only are harsh in extreme situations like this, and also on drug or DUI infractions.

Never mind the champagne brunch which must have gotten them a bit tipsy, if I remember correctly, public drunkenness in Dubai is an automatic one month in jail.

The couple is at the beach making out and are warned if an infraction by the police, which didn't seem to matter to them. Shame on them, not the Dubai court system.

They were vacationing in an Islamic country which has differing views about what is permissible in public we in the west, and their laws reflect that.

Shame on the travel agents who plan vacations for people and don't explain the cultural differences, and that laws back up those differences.

Poor Brits. For having sex on a public beach, they'll get thrown in a Middle Eastern jail for three months where some of the inmates will probably try to have sex with THEM ...

Why do dogs can do it on the beach but people can't?
I think people should have the same privilege and be treated equally.

When in Rome....! Guests in other countries owe that country the courtesy of abiding with the cultures and traditions of that country. America is a prime example of how the Mexican illegals have taken over cities, ie Miama, Florida, for one example. When I moved to Holland for ten years, I learned the language, the culture and the traditions. I kissed and loved my husband within the walls of our home, not on the NorthSea coast, or any other open exposure. Drinking does not excuse poor behavior. Sadly, this fine and jail time will not do much in making people more mature...

Dubai looks at Americans and Britons as consumers to make money off of until the markets in India and China as profitable and they can drop us like a rock. In the mean time, they don't want us over there stinking up their beaches and hotels. I'm voting for McCain --I don't care about all the politics, I just know in my gut that McCain won't put up with this cr4p and he won't get all distracted with trying to make poor people rich while we're still borrowing money from China to give to Dubai and others who don't like us very much.

Quick! Where can I but a ticket to Dubai? Maybe I can buy one of those islands so I can live under totalitarian rule! Hey - a beer only costs 168 pounds. Whoopie!

What a joke. They deserve to be in jail. What kind of idiot goes on vacation in a ridiculous place like that anyway? The New Vegas? Yeah - except 97% of the sh*t you like to do in Vegas gets you thrown in jail.

Build it and they will come - then you can throw them in jail!

Quick! Where can I but a ticket to Dubai? Maybe I can buy one of those islands so I can live under totalitarian rule! Hey - a beer only costs 168 pounds. Whoopie!

What a joke. They deserve to be in jail. What kind of idiot goes on vacation in a ridiculous place like that anyway? The New Vegas? Yeah - except 97% of the shit you like to do in Vegas gets you thrown in jail.

Build it and they will come - then you can throw them in jail!


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