Kissing couple behind bars

A Dubai court upheld a one-month
jail sentence given to a British pair for kissing in public, media reports

The British man living in Dubai and
a female friend were arrested in November on charges of kissing intimately in
public and consuming alcohol. An Emirati mother had complained her child had
seen their indiscretion.

The case is the third time in under
two years that Britons have fallen foul of indecency laws in Dubai, a Muslim
emirate popular with sun-seeking Western tourists and expatriates.

The defendants are consulting their
lawyer on whether to appeal Sunday’s ruling before a cassation court, the
website of the daily Gulf News reported.

The pair, who had been free on
bail, are also to pay a fine of $272 for illegal consumption of alcohol and
will be deported after serving their jail term, the website said.

Dubai’s foreign population expanded
rapidly in recent years as expatriates flocked to the Gulf Arab trade and
tourism hub for its tax-free earnings and year-round sunshine.

The changes have challenged the
Emirati population, now vastly outnumbered by foreigners, raising concerns that
the rapid pace of growth is a threat to their social and religious identity in
what remains a deeply conservative region.

In 2008, a British couple narrowly
escaped jail after a court found them guilty of engaging in drunken sexual
activity out of wedlock and in public on a beach in the emirate.

They were sentenced to three months
in prison followed by deportation, but had their jail terms overturned on

In another case this year, a
British couple who shared a hotel room managed to escape trial in Dubai for
having sex out of wedlock by producing a marriage certificate