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Stripping down the laws

Stripping down the laws

A man in Dubai has been sentenced to a month in jail for wearing a cancer awareness t-shirt that featured an almost nude Victoria Beckham.

June 21, 2009 9:59 by

A Lebanese man in Dubai has been sentenced to one month in jail followed by deportation for wearing a cancer awareness t-shirt featuring a nearly naked Victoria Beckham, reports The National. The Dubai Court of Appeals charged him with offending public decency.

The 28-year-old was reportedly stopped at a bakery in Dubai last year by an Arab man, who questioned him about his t-shirt, which showed a nearly nude Beckham with the slogan “Protect the Skin You’re In.”

The two argued, and after the accused left to change his shirt, the police were called and charged him with three accounts; drunkenness, fleeing the scene of a conflict and offending public decency. The first two charges have since been dropped, says the report.

The shirts were designed by Marc Jacobs for a cancer awareness campaign.

We have asked the police for a comment and are still waiting for a response.

Laws regarding public behavior in Dubai came to light when a British couple was arrested for having sex on a public beach last year.

It was followed by media reports earlier this year that claimed that the Dubai Executive Council had launched a campaign against what it considers inappropriate behavior in public. According to the reports, playing loud music, dancing, nudity, kissing, holding hands and being under the influence of alcohol in public will be considered offenses, and may result in jail time and fines.

Wearing revealing clothing in public, including short skirts and shirts that expose shoulders, will also be considered offenses, the council said.

Last week, the British Foreign Office launched a campaign urging British nationals to dress appropriately and respect local customs when overseas on holiday. The office warned that there have been several cases of British nationals being charged with indecent public exposure while on vacation, reported the Telegraph.

Research by the office found that half of all British women who sunbathe topless risk prosecution, and that one in seven men admitted to having had sex in a public place on holiday.

Some of the instructions given include: “Rude gestures in Dubai are considered to be an obscene act and offenders can be prosecuted,” and “topless sunbathing in Abu Dhabi is forbidden and liable to be punished by imprisonment or deportation.”

The latest incident again highlights the struggle that Dubai seems to be facing: being a cosmopolitan city with traditional Islamic laws. With more cases of “public indecency” making headlines, is the emirate trying to prove a point? And will the negative publicity prove to be detrimental to Dubai’s image?

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  1. Craig on June 21, 2009 3:05 pm

    On the one hand you have Dubai hiring a PR firm and paying them millions to promote them in a good light to a worldwide audience….and on the other you have stories like this (and many others like it) that eminate from the courts that will be told around the world. There is a theory that there is no such thing as bad publicity, but in these cases I would tend to disagree…no amount of money and ‘PR’ is going to paper over the cracks that stories like these leave in peoples minds, especially when they are sensationalized even more by the tabloids of various countries…I’ve seen the image, and seriously….until the courts stop pandering to the people that report such things and frankly wasting the time and money of the police and the courts…things will just move from the sublime to the ridiculous, if they haven’t already.

  2. tony saliba on June 22, 2009 6:36 am

    What I cannot understand is the simplicity and easiness of putting someone in jail here!

    If you want your country to have tourists , investors and expatriates , you should at least allow a bit of flexibility in the law implementation .
    Your whole life in terms of work , family and financial commitments will suffer because of a severe punishment that could not have been expected.

  3. M Kutty on June 22, 2009 7:50 am

    Dear Sir,
    I don’t think the administration is so serious about such matters but only to get some publicity on such things. If they are so serious, why there are so many prostitutes openly selling on the roads in lthe Deira and Naif area all the time irrespectve of day and night. This is happening openly and it is really embarassing for the families staying in the very same building where the prostitutes are doing their buksiness. While the administration is taking action against a person who is wearing a Tshirt that also part of a cancer awareness campaign but closing their eyes on such things.
    Thank you

  4. Stephen Park on June 22, 2009 7:55 am

    UAE population 5m (approx)

    Muslim Indonesia – 175m ??

    all of these are majority muslim countries and manage to combine western values etc with Islam

    Islam is not supposed to be enforced on others
    yes we are visitors and should respect it

    but christians can eat in ramadan in indonesia in daylight, there are pubs clubs etc

    dubai needs to make its mind up what it wants to be

    unfortunately the courts and real estate “industry” made the decision for them and everyone has long gone now

  5. black swan on June 26, 2009 9:42 am

    He’s a lebanese national.. !!!
    who cares if he’s sentenced to one month in jail and deported for wearing a T-shirt featuring a semi-naked woman..
    Now let’s focus on Paris Hilton bikini stories.. and the summer shopping festival..

  6. davinci on June 28, 2009 6:54 pm

    Yes invite paris as a state guest endorsed by the government whose only claim to fame is a sex tape ,let all prostitutes do their thing not justi n naif but all top areas of abudhabi and dubai, let everything happen, but wait we are an islamic country lets arrest the tshirt guy.

    But what the heck another day in dubai, these things dont even surprise me anymore

  7. Shehab Ahmed on July 28, 2009 10:44 am

    Dubai is a modern city you are free to do whatever you want but there is a limit for your freedom. Dubai is more flexible than any other cities but dont take things for granted and over use your freedom, at the end you have to respect the country and the culture by obeying the rules which you didnt bother to learn before coming here. Nude bathing is prohibted not only in UAE but in the rest of the world as well. Sadly your right they are prostitutes here but again you don’t see prostitutes in public area and shopping malls in day light doing their own stuff. You have a choice if you want to go to that area but you dont have a choice when you go to a public beach with your family and see two couples having sex!!!

  8. SB on September 29, 2009 4:40 pm

    To Shehab Ahmed:
    Which one do u prefer to look at? A couple making love on the beach, or picture this:
    u r at the hospital waiting for the ambulance to deliver your only daughter that u were told that she fell off a bike while hanging out with her classmates at a supposedly safe compound, and broke her arm, u see her, they are bringing her out of the ambulance, her big blue eyes wide open, but there is no expression!! bcos she didn’t fall off a bike, but off a quad bike, bcos corrupt dubai and emaar gave permission to one of the residents to get a quad for his son even though they are not allowed to be driven as per their own written rules as well as uae rules, they drive it in the compound while the security guards are watching, picture your daughter lying down on the floor moaning for 40 minutes, while everyone else is watching her, the security guards couldn’t touch her bcos they are not trained on first aid, AND bcos its ramadan thery can not touch a female?!?! ambulance arrives after 40 minutes and police came only when they heard that Gabriella passed away?! In the police report they address Gabriella as “the accused” why? The quad bike wasn’t hers! She was only 14! She was the victim of ignorance!

    U think sex on the beach is bad? What would u call the lawyer whom I approached for the case and he wanted me to invite him for dinner etc etc…before he takes the case?!?ah maybe if it is hidden its ok in dubai?!?!

    How about my so called “best friend” whom I knew for 10 years and he conned me financially, without feeling any remorse towards what kind of emotional and financial state I am in already? now he is sat in his new found country and chanting about it!
    If I had a choice, I prefer to see the sex on the beach, then the expresionless eyes of my daughter! those 2 who were making love in the open didn’t kill or con anyone, still, they got their punishment but nothing happened to the people who were responsible for my only daughters death, or to my “best friend”!

  9. Maria McMahon on November 1, 2009 3:11 pm

    I am a British expat who has been living in the UAE (Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman and now Abu Dhabi) for the past 11 years, and I am always surprised when I see (women mostly!) wearing very short skirts / revealing tops etc, in a country where there are very clear dress codes. Skimpy clothing is fine for the beach, and even a nightclub as long as you have a decent jacket or something to cover yourself going in and out – to me it is a matter of simple respect for the country and culture you are visiting (or living in!). It is a mark of ignorance not to comply with simple rules that would keep the status quo nicely maintained, and would result in no negative publicity for a country that is after all, the most liberal and tolerant Muslim country in the world! Whenever I am travelling to a new country, I always make a point of researching local laws and customs so as not to offend anyone! I don’t think it’s asking too much that everyone does the same.

  10. @Hippo_Crit on November 2, 2009 9:04 am

    dont want to comment on the whole incident… but have one small thing i think you guys might have overlooked…
    “and being under the influence of alcohol in public will be considered offenses!!!”
    how do we go back home from the clubs? do we stay in that hotel?
    just food for thought

  11. Peter Peter on November 22, 2009 12:49 pm

    The laws are archaic and often contradictory.

    It is illegal to have liquor on your breath when walking on the footpath ( this is a Muslim country remember ?) but it is perfectly legal to sell liquor at all the 3, 4 & 5 star hotels.

    A copy of a British Magazine was confiscated at the airport because there was one ad for the perfume Obsession which showed some skin ( this is a Muslim country remember ? ) , but the police office so kindly directed me to the Duty Free to pick up not 2 but 4 bottles of liquor !

    People can be arrested and jailed ( see this story ! ) for wearing a T shirt with a picture of a woman showing skin , but go to any disco or night club in any hotel in Dubai and you not only see skin you can also touch and feel it provided you have the cash.

    Sensibilities, religious sentiment and traditions be damned, rules can be bent as long as there is money to be made, after all this is Dubai !


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