Babylon & Beyond

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DUBAI: Sex on the beach, then prison

October 16, 2008 |  7:30 am


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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