Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 7 December 2019

Beach patrols stepped up to stop men taking pictures of sunbathing women

Beachgoers in Dubai say many of the men they have approached while taking pictures with their smartphones have appeared to be unaware that it could lead to a fine, jail or deportation.
Dubai resident Natalina Morotti, 35, says she feels uncomfortable if anyone takes her photo without consent. Victor Besa for The National
Dubai resident Natalina Morotti, 35, says she feels uncomfortable if anyone takes her photo without consent. Victor Besa for The National

DUBAI // Police are stepping up their beach patrols to stop an increasing number of men taking pictures of sunbathing women.

Plain-clothes officers and security cameras will also be used to help maintain the privacy of women at the city’s beaches.

Beachgoers say many of the men they have approached while taking pictures with their smartphones have appeared to be unaware that it could lead to a fine, jail or deportation.

The problem is high on the agenda for Dubai Police, said the head of its maritime division, Maj Ali Al Naqbi.

“This is not our core business but we are working hard to stop this problem,” he said.

“Some men pretend they are coming to take pictures of a famous building or the beach, when in fact they are taking photos of women instead.

“We can see the men who are not there to go for a swim or enjoy the beach. We can tell from their body language. We have seen so many cases. It is getting worse.”

Tourist safety officers, accompanied by police in kanduras or other civilian attire, regularly patrol public beaches to step in if necessary.

Police also patrol the sand and shoreline in marked vehicles and have advised people against bringing valuables, to minimise the risk of thefts.

“Some people bring two or three phones, cash and wallets to the beach. That is a risk, particularly if they are left on the beach when they go for a swim,” Maj Al Naqbi said.

Security cameras trained on beach areas are also linked to the nearest police station in Dubai Marina, which will enable officers to respond to any suspicious activity within minutes.

Natalina Morotti, 35, an Italian civil engineer who lives in The Greens, said: “I know that this is happening, I see it a lot. If anyone takes my photo without my permission I will ask them to stop.

“It is not dangerous but it makes me feel uncomfortable. It is a problem for a woman, but I do feel safe here and the police are always around.”

Mary-Grape de Castro, 29, from the Philippines, goes to the beach at Jumeirah Beach Residence or Jumeirah once a week.

“We came in after work and there were some men taking photos of us,” said Ms de Castro, who lives in Motor City.

“I asked them to stop and tell them they shouldn’t be doing this kind of thing. When I asked the man to delete the photo, he said he was just taking a picture of me from the side view. I told him it was my privacy and he should stop.”

Women who have been photographed without permission are advised to contact police with a description of the offenders.

Slovakian tourist Martina Stugiekoua, who was visiting Dubai for a week with her friends, said she was happy with the level of police protection.

“I feel safe here in Dubai and the beaches are very nice,” Ms Stugiekoua said. “There are lots of men on the beach. Some are in groups but it doesn’t seem to be a problem.

“If I see them trying to take photos of either me or my friends I will tell them to stop.”

Anyone who tries to take photos without permission will face penalties, Maj Al Naqbi said.

“We have the authority by law to stop anyone from taking photos and check their cameras. Nobody can run away from the police.”

nwebster@thenational.ae

Updated: August 24, 2015 04:00 AM

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