Britons jailed, fined in Dubai beach sex trial

DUBAI Thu Oct 16, 2008 2:29am EDT

Briton Vince Acors, walks out of a Dubai court, September 2, 2008. REUTERS/Mosab Omar

Briton Vince Acors, walks out of a Dubai court, September 2, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/Mosab Omar

DUBAI (Reuters) - A Dubai court on Thursday sentenced two Britons found guilty of having sex on a Dubai beach to three months in jail and a 1,000 dirham ($272) fine, followed by deportation.

The Britons, a man and a woman, had pleaded not guilty to charges of having sex in public and committing an indecent act in public, but guilty to drinking alcohol without a license.

Neither they nor their lawyer, Hassan Mattar, were in court when they were sentenced.

The case has highlighted culture clashes between the luxury tourism industry in Dubai, home to artificial palm-shaped islands and the world's tallest building, and the conservative Muslim culture of the Gulf Arab region.

Mattar told Reuters he would appeal against the sentence. "This verdict does not make sense," Mattar said. "I'm going to appeal it."

Dubai's foreign population has mushroomed in recent years, making the native population a minority in the Gulf Arab trade and tourism hub which offers tax-free earnings and year-round sunshine.

Balancing its Muslim identity in what remains a deeply conservative region with the lifestyle of expatriates who comprise over 90 percent of its population has proved difficult for local authorities and expatriates alike.

There are frequent reports of foreigners falling foul of local laws that strictly control drinking and ban homosexuality and displays of affection in public.

(Reporting by Raissa Kasolowsky, editing by Tim Pearce)