How to get arrested in Dubai
By Laura Tait
The Sun has reported that a British woman is facing the possibility of three years in prison in Dubai, after a taxi driver accused her of having sex with a fellow passenger in the back of his cab.
The woman, 27-year old recruitment consultant Rebecca Black, told The Sun she had spent five days behind bars before being released on bail. She denied the allegation, saying she was alone in the cab and instead arrested for drinking a bottle of beer, which is also illegal in the UAE.
Of course she's not the first Brit to wind up behind bars or deported because they're not clued up about United Arab Emirates laws.
According to the Foreign Office, 1.1 million Britons visited the UAE last year and 294 of them were arrested or detained by police - making it more likely to happen there than in any other country in the world.
So if getting banged up abroad is on your 'to do' list of life experiences, here are some easy ways to break the law in Dubai...
Do some dirty dancing
Ever thought your dance moves ought to be illegal? Then head to Dubai, where they just very well might be. Unless you're at a licensed club or in the privacy of your hotel room then dancing is considered indecent and provocative and could get you arrested. During Ramadan you won't even find a dancefloor to throw some shapes on risk-free - dancing, loud music and live music are forbidden during the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, so nightclubs usually close and all the bands go on holiday.
Give someone the finger
Back home it's just a bit rude but making insulting gestures in Dubai is regarded as obscene and totally unacceptable – as 56-year-old Brit Simon Andrew discovered in 2010 when he was accused of showing an aviation student his middle finger during a row and was arrested. He denied flipping the bird but had his passport confiscated for eight months as bail surety. It has been known for offenders to get a six-month sentence for such an act and some have been deported.
Have sex on the beach
For a surefire way to wind up behind bars, break a couple of laws at once. Because of their strict laws about indecency, public sex is beyond unacceptable. Do it with someone you're not married to – a crime that entails prosecution, imprisonment and/or a fine and deportation – and you're firing on all cylinders. Michelle Palmer, 36, of Oakham, Rutland, and Vince Acors, 34, of Bromley, London, did just that in 2009 and were banged up for three months before being deported, as well as fined 1,000 dirhams (about £180).
Snog in a restaurant
Don't assume you have to go all the way to infringe on their decency regulations – the law extends to kissing and even holding hands, unless you're married. British marketing executive Ayman Najafi and Charlotte Adams – both in their 20s - were arrested and accused of public indecency after an Emirati woman claimed they exchanged a passionate kiss in a restaurant. They were given a one-month jail sentence for public indecency and illegal drinking, fined 1,000 dirhams, then deported. The pair maintain it was merely a peck on the cheek.
Drink Sex on the Beach
Buying drinks in licensed hotels or bars is allowed but drinking – or being drunk – is illegal in public. You'll stand out particularly well in the resort of Sharjah where booze is banned full stop, apart from for residents with a licence to drink at home. It is also an offence in the UAE to drink and drive, no matter how tiny the amount. If you're arrested on alcohol-related offences you'll likely be jailed while you await trial and penalties entail hefty jail sentences and large fines.
Smoke some wacky baccy
Drugs are almost always a law breaker, but Dubai is about as far from Amsterdam as you can get. Possession and consumption is treated very seriously in the UAE and possession includes anything in your system, so even if you have a cheeky joint before you get on the Dubai-bound plane you could end up falling foul of their regulations, and wind up with their mandatory minimum of four years in jail.
Other laws you should know about
Shopping in shorts could attract attention from the authorities. Unless you're on the beach or by the pool, then anything tight, transparent, short or displaying your stomach, shoulders or back if you're a woman, is considered indecent. Same if you're a man in shorts or displaying a bare chest. Photography of certain government buildings is also illegal, as is perusing any form of pornographic material. If all else fails, smuggle in a bacon sandwich – pork is banned – and a poppy seed roll will add to the criminality of the action, as poppy seeds are also on the UAE's forbidden list.
For more travel information on UAE, visit the Foreign & Commonwealth Office website