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Dubai records 6,000 offences on its beaches

A beach in Dubai
Thousands of tourists and expats are drawn to Dubai's beaches

By Sebastian Usher
BBC Arab affairs editor

More than 6,000 people have been stopped by the police for offences on Dubai's beaches, records show.

Infractions range from ogling women, to kissing, to people swimming fully clothed or in their underwear.

Dubai's authorities have stepped up their policing of what they regard as offensive behaviour.

The Gulf emirate is popular with tourists and Western expats. But most of the people stopped are workers from developing countries.

The police records detail offences logged in the first 10 months of 2009.

Conservative country

Dubai has hit the headlines for its economic problems recently.

But the case of two Britons accused of having sex on a beach last year was one of the biggest stories to come out of emirate.

The case highlighted the dangers expatriates face in Dubai for behaviour that might be frowned upon back home but is unlikely to result in a prison sentence.

Dubai's dizzying growth has attracted more than three million expatriates and many tourists, drawn to its outlandish attractions, luxury hotels and year-round sunshine.

But Dubai remains a conservative Muslim country, where sex outside marriage and homosexuality are banned.

Undercover

The country might have boomed on the back of its foreign workers and tourists, but many locals resent their behaviour.

Undercover police patrols of its packed beaches were initiated several years ago. Floodlights expose misbehaviour at night.

Couples kissing or touching, men watching women or taking photographs, and topless sunbathers can be stopped, questioned and even charged if they are repeat offenders.

The police say they have taken legal action against people accused of drinking, taking drugs and homosexuality.

But police statistics also reveal that the majority of those caught are from developing countries. The people who have largely built Dubai - but remain unwelcome on its beaches.



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