Tuesday, May 18

Dubai deports Ukrainians and Russians for photoshoot on bare balcony

Eleven Ukrainian women who participated in a nude photoshoot on a high-rise balcony in Dubai will be deported, authorities said Tuesday, along with the Russian photographer.

After photos and videos of the women went viral in the UAE, Dubai authorities charged the 12 with public debauchery and pornography production.

Dubai Attorney General Essam Issa al-Humaidan announced that those responsible for the photo shoot would be sent back to their countries. Dubai police have refused to identify the detainees.

Ukrainian and Russian authorities confirmed the arrest of their citizens on Tuesday, but the nationalities of the other detainees were not immediately known.

It is unusual for foreigners accused of crimes committed in the Gulf sheikhs to be deported before being tried and serving time in prison. Dubai has strict laws based on sharia, or Islamic law, including public decency, and several foreigners have been deported in the past for disobeying them.

“The prosecutor ordered the deportation of the accused for their behavior contrary to public morals,” al-Humaidan said.

Dubai is one of the world’s top destinations for Instagram influencers and models, who fill their social media with stylish bikini selfies of the coastal emirate’s luxury hotels and man-made islands.

But the city’s branding as a dazzling foreign tourist destination has at times sparked controversy and clashed with the sheik’s strict rules governing behavior and public expression.

The scandal came just days before Ramadan, the holiest month on the Muslim calendar, and when Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky landed in nearby Doha, Qatar, for an official state visit.


Over the years, Dubai has been increasingly touted as a popular destination for Russians on vacation. Signs in Cyrillic are a common sight in the city’s major shopping malls.

The generally pro-Kremlin tabloid Life identified the arrested Russian man as the head of an information technology company in Russia’s Ivanovo region, though his firm denied it had anything to do with the photoshoot.

The Associated Press was unable to determine whether those arrested had legal representation or to contact an attorney for them.

Stanislav Voskresensky, the governor of Ivanovo, asked the Russian Foreign Ministry and the Russian ambassador to the United Arab Emirates to offer their support to the Russian.

“We are not abandoning ours,” Voskresensky wrote on social media.

Although the UAE has recently made legal changes to attract foreign tourists and investors, allowing unmarried couples to share hotel rooms and residents to drink alcohol without a license, the Persian Gulf country’s justice system maintains stiff penalties for violations of the law of public decency.

Nudity and other “lewd behavior” carry penalties of up to six months in prison and a fine of Dh5,000 ($ 1,360). The sharing of pornographic material is also punishable by prison terms and heavy fines.

Foreigners, who make up about 90% of the UAE’s population of more than 9 million, have been jailed for comments and videos online, as well as crimes considered benign in the West, such as kissing in public.


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