DUBAI // Marte Deborah Dalelv is back with her family in Norway and focused on recovering from the past few months.
Ms Dalelv, 24, left the UAE on Tuesday night, a day after receiving a pardon from a jail sentence for sex out of wedlock that was imposed after she withdrew an allegation of rape.
“I have to put all this behind me,” she said before leaving Dubai for Oslo. “I can’t think of anything else but going home and being with my family and friends.
“It was a very hard period. I was told, ‘be strong, just deal with everything and we will take care of you when you get back home’. So I put a lid on it and hid it.”
Ms Dalelv had been sentenced to 16 months on July 16, comprising a year for consensual sex, three months for illegally drinking alcohol and one month for making a false complaint to police.
She was pardoned by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai.
Initially Ms Dalelv, who worked for a interior-design company in Qatar, told police she had been raped by a colleague in his hotel room after a night out in Dubai in March.
Her workmate, a Sudanese man identified as H?M, 33, was also pardoned after being sentenced to a year in prison for consensual sex and a month for drinking.
Ms Dalelv said young women needed to be mindful of different laws when travelling overseas.
“I would first of all tell them that this country has Islamic rules and laws that we must respect because we are visiting,” she said.
“I would say they must contact the embassy for help first so someone who knows can give you the advice you need.
“Maybe if I had done that I could have gone back to Norway and reported the rape, and then I would not have been in jail or have had to go through all this.”
After filing the rape complaint on March 7, Ms Dalelv spent three days in prison. She was released on bail on the condition that she stayed in the UAE.
She has said she regretted retracting the rape charge but did so on advice from an employee at her company.
A spokesman for Al Mana Interiors in Doha has denied this.
Ase Elin Bjerke, the Norwegian ambassador, said authorities would look at guidelines given to visitors to the UAE.
The Norwegian embassy’s website includes detailed rules prohibiting physical contact between the sexes in public and illegal alcohol consumption.
“We all need to learn from a case like this and we will review to see if it contains the necessary message,” Ms Bjerke said, and residents should ask for consular support in emergencies.
“The first notion as a violated woman is that you go to the police and make your statement because you shouldn’t waste time and spoil evidence, so that was her gut reaction.
“I don’t want to speculate on the case but it would be advisable to get in touch fairly quickly with the embassy because you are a foreigner, so you need assistance from people more acquainted with local customs and regulations.”