DUBAI Nov 22 A British woman and Irish man
accused of engaging in sexual activities in a Dubai taxi were
sentenced on Thursday to three months in prison and then
deportation, their lawyer said.
The case is the latest in which Westerners have fallen foul
of the United Arab Emirates' decency laws, highlighting cultural
differences as the UAE seeks a balance between maintaining its
Muslim identity and catering for a vibrant tourism industry.
Rebecca Blake and Conor McRedmond both denied charges of
"breach of honour with consent" and committing "an indecent act
in a taxi" when they appeared in court last month. They also
pleaded guilty to a third charge related to consumption of
alcohol in public.
"The court sentenced them to jail for three months and
deportation in addition to a fine of 3,000 dirhams ($817) each,"
their lawyer Shaker al-Shammary told Reuters.
He said they would appeal.
There have been several cases in recent years of Westerners
accused of violating decency laws in Dubai, the most
cosmopolitan of the seven-member UAE federation.
In 2008, a British couple was found guilty of engaging in
drunken sexual activity out of wedlock and in public on a beach
in Dubai. They were sentenced to three months in prison followed
by deportation but had their jail terms overturned on appeal.
In 2010, another British couple were sentenced to a month in
jail and fined for kissing on the mouth in a restaurant in
The cultural chasm in the Gulf Arab state between the
country's native Muslim population and the expatriates
community, is conspicuous in everyday life.
While Emirati women cover themselves from head to toe with a
headscarf and a traditional black gown, some of their Western
expatriate counterparts walk around in shorts or mini-skirts,
and public beaches are full of tourists sunbathing in bikinis.
Islam bans alcohol for Muslims. In the UAE, non-Muslims can
drink at most hotels and beach bars where all-you-can-drink
brunches heave with revellers every weekend.
Expatriates make up more than 90 percent of the UAE's