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Here we go again…

Here we go again…

Yes, it’s time for more sex on the beach, the Dubai story that refuses to die.

September 25, 2008 4:13 by

Looks like it’s time for the requisite “sex on the beach in Dubai” update. Just as the world was beginning to lose focus on a story of earth-shattering importance, Reuters pops out this heavyweight feature.

The lead sentence begins: “Sex on the beach or drunken trysts may not raise eyebrows in many cities…”

Let’s stop right there.

Call us prudes, but what on earth is this referring to? Two drunk people going at it in full view of strangers, including a cop, “may not raise eyebrows” – where?

For those who aren’t up to speed: Earlier this month, Gulf News reported, yet again, on the British couple in question, who gained worldwide notoriety for allegedly having sex in public on a beach in Dubai back in July.

It remains to be seen whether this ongoing case, and the coverage it will inevitably continue to draw, will somehow sully Dubai’s image among potential Western visitors, and thereby translate into lost tourism revenue. Perhaps it will simply correct the international media’s false impression –and we’re not even sure how this rumor got started – that Dubai is a Vegas-style party town where anything and everything goes.

The defendants learned earlier this month they will not, as requested, get a speedy trial, which means the case will likely continue to grab headlines.

The reason for the delay? The cop who caught them – and, so the story goes, had his religion insulted and get whacked with a stiletto along the way, although notably, that detail didn’t appear on the list of charges – failed to show up to testify at the hearing.

Case adjourned for one more month.

For those still paying attention (and plenty around the world, including us, still are) the policeman’s no-show is likely to fuel further speculation about the lurid details of this unseemly matter: Did they or didn’t they?

Police say the man involved, one Vince Acors, first admitted having sex with his co-defendant, Michelle Palmer, but then changed his story. The couple is now pleading not guilty.

On Sept. 1, Palmer told a Dubai court: “”We were just kissing and hugging. We didn’t have sex together. I was lying on top of him.” Details like this hold our attention.

On a more serious note, perhaps the most interesting aspect of this case is the tone of the international coverage. Every article, it seems, contains an obligatory paragraph purporting to explain why the story is important enough to be told halfway around the world.

Here’s Fox News on the matter (best read aloud, with a deep tone suggestive of gravitas):

“The case has highlighted the strong contrasts in the booming United Arab Emirates, particularly Dubai. The city has a much more freewheeling attitude than other places in the Gulf, with cash flowing from oil and finance and a huge expatriate population. But the case is a reminder that it remains a conservative Arab nation underneath.”

Yes, but. Try having sex in public on a beach in New Jersey, and try assaulting the cop who tries to stop you. (For those wondering, yes, you’ll end up in the clink.)

Reuters, the esteemed news agency, meanwhile brings out an entire gallery of pontificating eggheads to lend the story academic weight.

One professor says, “These cases are greatly damaging to Dubai’s economy. They make people ask themselves, ‘Why go to Dubai for a sun and beach holiday if you can get arrested for kissing?’’’

It is unclear which “kissing” case he was referring to. The defendants themselves admit there was at least some serious hanky-panky going on here.

From the international perspective, perhaps the most newsworthy aspect of the case is the severity of the sentences being discussed. Putting aside the alleged assault, most Western countries would probably treat gross public displays of affection as a misdemeanor at worst. In Dubai, the public prosecutor says the pair, if found guilty, will likely be jailed for between six months and a year. They will also be fined and, when released, deported back to the UK.

One can argue about whether that’s draconian, merely harsh, or even justified. One can dispute the prosecution’s version of events, debate the mores of those involved, and chatter to no end about the lurid details of the case.

But turning it into a wider statement about the UAE’s Arab or Islamic values? Kipp makes no such pretence. We just enjoy writing about it.

Expect to hear from us again around Oct. 7, when the next is next scheduled to come to court.

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1 Comment

  1. john on September 29, 2008 8:32 am

    This has been dragging on since July and its now nearly October. These two have been kept in Dubai by the authorities and one wonders how they have managed to survive with no jobs. They should have been locked up right away then deported,,, end of… I think we all know whats coming a jail term qucikly followed by a pardon and deportation and the whole sorry mess quickly forgotten about… The present status quo is taking liberties


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