x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Dubai vows to eradicate lewd beach behaviour

Security guards will patrol Dubai beaches and new floodlights will leave badly behaved people with nowhere to hide.

New lights will be installed on Jumeirah Open Beach to ensure there is visibility throughout the night.
New lights will be installed on Jumeirah Open Beach to ensure there is visibility throughout the night.

DUBAI // Security guards will patrol Dubai beaches and new floodlights will leave people committing indecent acts with no place to hide, the city's public safety officials said yesterday as they vowed to eradicate lewd behaviour. Dubai Municipality said it had directed security staff to Jumeirah Open Beach in response to the recent arrest of two Britons who were allegedly caught by a police officer having intercourse on the beach. The authorities were also concerned about several complaints of people "overexposing" themselves by sunbathing nude or dressing inappropriately.

Abdullah Mohammed Rafia, the assistant director general for environment and public health affairs at the municipality, said: "These new personnel have been deployed, especially at the Jumeirah Open Beach, because of the incident that happened there last week." New lights will be installed to ensure there is visibility throughout the night. "The lights will be on for 24 hours so that people can walk freely and enjoy the beach at night. We know that there will always be some section of people who get involved in wrong acts, but it is our job to remind them about the regulations of the country," Mr Rafia said.

The National reported last week that large signs would be erected at Jumeirah Open Beach, Jumeirah Beach Park and Al Mamzar Beach Park warning beachgoers against topless sunbathing and nudity. Yesterday, Mr Rafia said: "The sign boards will mention the acceptable attire for beachgoers along with other instructions." Mr Rafia said the municipality would not fine those violating the rules, but would issue warnings. If the offence was serious or repeated, it would refer the matter to the police.

"Fines and penalties are a police matter and our job is just to warn the beach visitors. If they do not listen, then we will approach the police," he said. The municipality has asked that more undercover police patrol the beach to catch offenders. Dubai police said it had arrested 79 people in connection with indecency offences at the beach in the past two weeks. Col Khalil Ibrahim al Mansouri, the deputy director of the crime unit in the criminal investigation department, said police patrols and undercover police had been working on Dubai beaches and in other public areas all week.

The patrols would be intensified at weekends, he said. "Police are there to spot trouble and work hard to ensure people are safe by keeping an eye on any unwanted behaviour," he said. "[They] look for those who commit publicly indecent crimes and to weed out those who cause unwanted behaviour and who threaten the privacy of the beaches. Many workers and illegal immigrants gather there and take part in preening on women, making them feel uncomfortable. It is very important for us to make sure that people feel protected from such groups of unpleasant men," he said.

Referring to the British couple arrested for having intercourse on the beach, he said: "This behaviour is not acceptable anywhere in the world. If you cross the line of respect, then you should be prepared to handle the consequences. "Sexual contact is private and belongs behind closed doors and not in public or at a beach. If [the] police catch people taking part in less serious sexual contact then they usually will let the individuals off with a caution.

"However, if it is serious then they will be taken in to face legal proceedings." Dubai public prosecution staff said the file had not yet been referred to the prosecutor's office and no charges had yet been laid against the couple. @Email:pmenon@thenational.ae * Additional reporting by Rasha Abu Baker