DUBAI: Sex on the beach?

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A Muslim emirate is not the best place to mix champagne and beach romance. A British couple is facing up to six years in prison for allegedly having public sex near the surf in Dubai, a split-personality emirate that toys with Western permissiveness but is ruled by Islamic tenets.

The couple -– Vince Acors and Michelle Palmer -– face up to six years in jail for indecency and having unmarried sex. A trial on the charges is expected to begin next week. The British Broadcasting Company quoted Palmer, who was reportedly fired from her job at a publishing house after the incident, as saying:


“We were just kissing and hugging. We didn’t have sex together. I was lying on top of him. I have been to Dubai for 2 1/2 years without committing any kind of offense. I’m sorry.”

Authorities in Dubai -- the flashy, financial hub of the United Arab Emirates -- said the couple met at a champagne brunch, got in a taxi and were arrested on the beach by a policeman who spotted Palmer sitting on Acors with her shirt off.

“The lady is innocent,” Palmer’s lawyer, Hassan Mattar, told the media after the couple appeared in court this week. “The medical reports from the police show she didn’t have sex.”

Foreigners make up about 85% of the UAE’s population of 5.6 million, and cultures often collide.

— Jeffrey Fleishman in Cairo

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