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Dubai police crack down on cross-dressers

DUBAI (Reuters) - Police in Dubai have arrested several men and women for cross-dressing in what they said was a campaign to preserve the social values of the cosmopolitan Gulf Arab trade and tourism hub, newspapers reported on Monday.

Dubai is part of the seven-member United Arab Emirates, a Muslim country where cross-dressing is frowned upon but whose population is dominated by migrants with diverse backgrounds and lifestyles.

“We have noted an emerging trend of men dressed as women and vice versa in the UAE markets and streets,” the Khaleej Times daily quoted Dubai Police Chief Dhahi Khalfan as saying.

“Several men in women’s dresses and make-up have already been arrested from shopping malls and residential buildings,” he said.

The detainees were being referred to the public prosecutor as part of the one-week campaign called “Preserve Our Social Values”, though it was not clear what charges would be brought.

Khalfan urged the Social Affairs Ministry to study the reasons behind the trend, which he said could be a consequence of mixed-sex schools.

Dubai is a city of sky-scrapers and mega-developments, which attracts foreign workers ranging from well-paid Western executives to low-wage Asian labourers. Tourists may wear bikinis and drink cocktails at hotel nightclubs but sex outside marriage is banned as is homosexual behaviour.

Writing by Lin Noueihed; Editing by Richard Balmforth