Photo: Thinking of a holiday in Dubai? You had better behave! [getty images]
The way Dubai is repeatedly imprisoning people for insignificant 'offenses' is certain to start to impact the tourist trade, as word spreads that you could be thrown in jail for such terrible crimes as kissing in public or sending sexy text messages.
Someone is losing the plot in the Emirate.
In the latest story, 2 Emirates cabin crew have been given 3 months in prison for sending each other sexy text messages, reduced on appeal from the original sentence of six months and deportation. The woman's husband had obtained the texts from the national telecom provider in a divorce dispute, and seems to be somewhat filled with a desire for revenge and to win custody of his child. It seems sending sexy texts in the UAE amounts to the crime of "coercion to the commitment of sin".
You've been warned.
The National has the story, but it's all over the net today.
Airline pair jailed over sex texting
March 17. 2010
DUBAI // Two Emirates Airline cabin crew have been jailed for three months for exchanging lewd text messages.
RS, 42, a flight attendant, and EB, 47, a cabin services supervisor, were convicted of “coercion to commit sin” after sending each other sexually themed SMS messages, according to court documents released yesterday.
The pair, both Indian, were sentenced to six months in prison and deportation by the Dubai Court of Misdemeanors in December.
The court said the texts “fulfilled all the necessary angles of coercion to the commitment of sin”.
The Appeals Court upheld that decision last week. But it halved their jail sentences and scrapped the deportation orders. There was not enough evidence to prove that the pair had extramarital relations, it added.
The flight attendant’s sister, BM, 25, was also convicted of perjury and sentenced to three months and deportation by the lower court. Her deportation order was withdrawn on appeal.
The case first went to court after the flight attendant’s husband, SG, filed a lawsuit against his wife in March 2009 claiming that she was involved in an illicit relationship with the supervisor.
The couple had been embroiled in a divorce battle since 2007.
SG has now gained sole custody of their four-year-old son, although it was not clear when the couple divorced.
During the divorce proceedings, SG requested that the courts order Etisalat to produce copies of his wife’s text messages, which, he said, proved the illicit relationship.
The telecoms provider turned them over to the court in October 2008.
Five months later, the flight attendant’s husband filed a criminal complaint against her, charging her with having an affair and saying her text messages were an insult to Islam.
She told police that her sister sent the messages to the supervisor, who also denied any relationship with RS. He told officers that he had been seeing her sister for the past four years. Prosecutors decided that was untrue, however, leading to the perjury charge against the sister.
Meanwhile, Muscat Airport runway costs go up at least Half a Billion dollars.
Muscat's new airport is in trouble. A Ministry official was quoted in the papers as saying the new runway would be delayed for 2 years and cost an extra $500 million due to hitting seawater.
What the official didn't mention that the project screwed up big time. Not only did they skimp by not doing basic geotechnical investigation - drilling exploratory boreholes to sample the rock and soil where the runway was planned - but my sources tell me similar problems had already hit the sewage waste water project last year, and so should have been obvious.
The problem is the contractors needed to dig quite deep to make a proper runway that can be engineered to last and withstand being pounded by planes landing all day. And the excavation, on land right by the ocean, needed to be a lot deeper than the level of the aquifer. Doh!
My sources, who know a thing or two about engineering, also said $500 million was a low estimate, and it could end up adding an extra billion dollars, almost doubling the cost of the runway. This is because they will have to build it up even higher, and thus needing a LOT more rock and sand.
Reuters reported that the extension of Oman's main airport in Muscat will be delayed by 2 years and may cost the state up to an extra USD 500 million after runway excavations hit seawater.
The official said that the Muscat airport extension will now be completed in 2014, not in 2012 as expected due to soft ground which contractors come across in some places. He said that it would cost the government up to USD 500 million to pay for reinforcements to fill affected ground in places where civil work excavations hit seawater.
Speaking of cock-ups, in other news, The Asian Beach Games project, despite rumours to the contrary, will apparently be ready on time. Even my sources confirm this, not just OMRAN.
However, the project is beset with problems, with chaotic redesigns on the fly coupled with the immovable date for completion in November this year, as Oman hosts the Asian Beach Games. The bits that will appear on TV are already finished, and the hotel will be OK. But the athletes village will be a Heath Robinson affair that will not be built to last, and plans to create yet another OMRAN mini-city at the site have been shelved, replaced by a now 4 star hotel (was 3 star) and the usual Integrated Tourist Development we know and love.
There are also persistent rumours of sweet contracts being awarded** to people who just happen to be closely related to senior people at Omran and the Ministries of both Sport and Tourism. To enable things to be done super quickly, CEO of OMRAN, Mr. Wael bin Ahmed Al Lawati, appears to have been given the ability to by-pass normal tender board procedures. I'm sure that there is no way such a removal of standard oversight would lead to contracts being given to relatives or buddies.
Coincidentally and totally unrelated, as the deadline approaches the budget is going through the roof. So while the project will scrape home and will look great on TV, the costs will be huge and the final product nothing like as grand as what was originally approved.
Small wonder the leadership of the project, under the responsibility of the Muscat Asian Beach Games Organising Committee (MABGOC) and Director General Eng. Habib Macki, have
But it's only Government money after all.
** Dear Mr State Auditor, maybe have a look at the contracts surrounding the Convention Centre...