79 uncouth sunbathers arrested in Dubai
A clash of values concerning appropriate beachwear has lead to a rash of arrests and a decency campaign in Dubai.
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) -- Westerners were getting too racy on the beaches of this Persian Gulf tourist haven, and a police crackdown on topless sunbathing, nudity and other indecent behavior has resulted in 79 arrests in recent days.
Undercover officers are strolling the sand while others stand guard in new watchtowers to enforce the social mores of this Muslim city-state, which is a booming business center that is attracting growing hordes of foreign tourists.
Authorities said they began the decency campaign after police detained a British man and a woman who were allegedly having sex on one of Dubai's sprawling beaches earlier this month.
Over the past two weeks, police have detained a total of 79 people whose behavior was "disturbing families enjoying the beach," Zuhair Haroun, a spokesman for Dubai's Criminal Investigation Department, said Monday.
While pursuing the police crackdown, Dubai has embarked on a public awareness campaign to remind its Western visitors and foreign residents that the city may have flashy hotels and glitzy skyscrapers but it also is a Muslim country with traditionally conservative values.
The city is installing signs warning tourists in Arabic, English and several other languages not to sunbathe topless or change clothes in public, said Abdullah Mohammed Rafia, an official with the Dubai Municipality whose office is overseeing the public awareness campaign.