Women in nude Dubai shoot to be deported

·2-min read

The women involved in a naked photo shoot on a high-rise balcony in Dubai will be deported, authorities say, after the footage went viral.

At least 11 young Ukrainian women and a Russian man were arrested over footage of the nude shoot, which prompted a crackdown in the Gulf Arab sheikhdom.

Dubai's Attorney General Issam Issa al-Humaidan on Tuesday said that the public prosecution has completed investigations and those behind the photo shoot will be sent back to their countries.

The move to deport the foreigners is highly unusual for the legal system in Dubai, an absolutely ruled sheikhdom. Typically, such cases go to trial or are otherwise adjudicated before deportation.

Police in Dubai announced earlier this week they had arrested a group of people on debauchery charges over the widely shared video showing naked women posing in broad daylight on a balcony overlooking the city's upscale Marina neighbourhood.

The nude photo shoot scandal comes just days before Ramadan, the holiest month of the Muslim calendar, and as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky lands in nearby Doha, Qatar, for an official state visit.

Dubai is a top destination for the world's Instagram influencers and models, who fill their social media feeds with slick bikini-clad selfies from the coastal emirate's luxury hotels and artificial islands.

But the city's brand as a glitzy foreign tourist destination has at times provoked controversy and collided with the sheikhdom's strict rules governing public behaviour and expression, which are based on Islamic law.

It's not the first time that foreign social media influencers, amateur and pro, have drawn unwanted scrutiny in the United Arab Emirates.

Earlier this year, as Dubai promoted itself as a major pandemic-friendly party haven for travellers fleeing tough lockdowns elsewhere, European reality TV show stars came under fire for flaunting their poolside Dubai vacations on social media and for bringing the coronavirus back home.

Denmark and the United Kingdom later banned flights to the UAE as virus cases surged in the federation of seven sheikhdoms.

Although the UAE has recently made legal changes to attract foreign tourists and investors, allowing unmarried couples to share hotel rooms and residents to drink alcohol without a license, the Gulf Arab country's justice system retains harsh penalties for violations of the public decency law.

Nudity and other "lewd behavior" carry penalties of up to six months in prison and a fine of 5000 dirhams ($A1800).

The sharing of pornographic material is also punishable with prison time and hefty fines. The country's majority state-owned telecom companies block access to pornographic websites.

Foreigners, who make up some 90 per cent of the UAE's population of over nine million, have landed in jail for their comments and videos online, as well as for activities considered tame in the West, like kissing in public.

Dubai police often turn a blind eye to foreigners misbehaving - until they don't.