Sunday, April 4, 2010

My views on the Dubai kissing couple's loss of verdict appeal

Today, the British couple jailed in Dubai for kissing in public, have lost their appeal against their conviction and have been sentenced to a month in prison with subsequent deportation and fined for drinking alcohol.

I have followed this case with a keen eye. It is a peculiar case in my point of view because it happened in a such strange circumstances. Let's review what we know about the case:

1) Events took place in the Jumeirah Beach Residence's The Walk at 2am

2) The restaurant where all the events happened does not serve alcohol

3) The couple had
an alcohol level of 22mg/dl. Although this is below the driving limit in the UK it is still considered an offense to be publicly intoxicated

The above three points allow me to safely assume that the British couple and their friends had a fun out drinking and needed to eat at the end of the night

4) Once accused, the couple had a rational self surviving prerogative to deny having done anything more than kissing on the cheek as the consequences would be dire

5) The restaurant has a rational self surviving prerogative to deny having been passively supportive of anything more than kissing on the cheek as the consequences would be dire

6) In western culture, kissing on the cheek usually happens when greeting someone or when saying goodbye to them. It is quite awkward and/or a sign of affection to kiss someone on the cheek in between those two points of a social outing

7) The Emirati lady has no rational prerogative to exaggerate what she saw for two reasons: First, it is considered a major taboo in Emirati culture
for women to enter a police station, prosecutor's office or court. This lady entered all three and continued to testify. This was both a logistical inconvenience and cultural taboo for what must have been a blatant lie for the defendants statements to be accurate. Second, kisses on the cheek occur everyday and all day in Dubai. Why would kisses on the cheek suddenly become offensive enough to warrant a false accusation?

I realise this is all incredibly circumstantial and this case may very well go down as someone's word against another but there is a certain bias that can be deduced from the points above.

Having said that, should the second appeal, now apparently in motion, be repealed as well then Dubai would once again be seen signaling a large unwelcome sign not because of its rules (those should not change) but on how it applies them.
The court's decision be a suspended one. It is not too late for that, we don't need the bad reputation nor do the couple need to go to jail for this. Preserving Dubai's unwritten social contract has never been as important as it's been today.

2 Comments:

Anonymous zekliv said...

Mishaal-

I agree with you that the problem is not with the rules.
From my point of view the problem is that in its effort to bring in more tourists and their money, Dubai is doing everything possible to make tourists forget they are coming to an Islamic country.
In reality, if you think about it, most non-Muslim and many Muslim tourists are in fact breaking the law every day of their stay in Dubai either by drinking, touching or wearing inappropriate clothing.

When friends from back home come to visit me, girls usually ask me can I wear this short skirt or can we hold hands in public. I tell them that it is illegal but everyone is doing it. What I tell them also is that if you choose to do so, then you are running the risk an Emirati person, who is having a bad day, sees you and decides to call the police. Then you are in trouble.

Sunday, April 04, 2010  
Blogger Seabee said...

I agree totally, it's not the law that's the problem it's the way the system is working that's a problem.

The reports tell us that the Emirati lady's statement changed but Public Prosecution didn't clarify the differences because they couldn't reach her on the phone.

The case went ahead anyway and, we're told, the accuser did not appear in court and no witnesses appeared.

As you say Mishaal, what we know is circumstantial. And that's a problem. Justice not only should be done, it should be seen to be done. Open and transparent.

We don't really know what happened because the prosecution and defence claims and evidence and the testimony of witnesses were not tested in court.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010  

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