Tuesday, June 23, 2009

T shirt gets man 1 month and deportation in Dubai

You've got to be increasingly careful what you do and wear in the UAE, as some poor guy found out after getting a month in prison and deportation for... wearing a T shirt.

Photo: The offending garment: Not for use in the UAE

OK, so its a pretty eye catching T shirt, part of a New York designer's skin cancer awareness campaign. But increasingly the UAE is becoming more draconian in the punishments meted out to expats accused of offending Emirati sensitivities. This sort of thing is going to hurt the tourist trade. Not so much the need to be sensible in dress terms, but the seemingly random severity of the punishments. I mean, a month in an Emirati prison and deportation for .... a T Shirt. And there aren't even any visible nipples.

Also strange that his lawyer wasn't even present at the appeal.

In other news, Bahrain indefinitely suspended, and 12 hrs later reinstated , a newspaper that printed an OpEd piece highly critical of the Iranian leadership and the recent elections. Criticism of a foreign leader (as long as Bahrain has diplomatic relations with the country) is illegal. And Shia sensitivities are very high, especially right now.

The BBC has a nice article looking at the election numbers statistically. In some provinces the results - while possible - seem pretty suspicious and unlikely without some degree of fraud.

...The study examines the results from this year and compares them with the first round from 2005, concluding that there would have to have been a huge swing from previously reform-minded voters into the Ahmadinejad camp.

The study says: "In a third of all provinces, the official results would require that Ahmadinejad took not only all former conservative voters, and all former centrist voters, and all new voters, but also up to 44% of former reformist voters, despite a decade of conflict between these two groups." ...

Commentaries on the Iranian elections, the alleged fraud, and the riots and deaths as the Iranian junta try to re-establish control of the streets with brute force, are problematic for the GCC. They don't want to annoy the Iranians, as things are tense enough over disputed islands, gas access, and Iran's increased support for Shia groups in the Sunni-dominated GCC. But they also can't support what's happening either without looking silly. So... no comment will be the order of the day please media. Oman is different and has both allowed official media to report on the situation from the wire services, and let Essa express support for the result too. Here's the disturbing story of the murder of a young woman by Iranian paramilitaries, when she was deliberately shot and killed for just standing in the road a few blocks away from the riots.

And here's the T shirt story. Take care with your wardrobe choices in the UAE folks!

Man in lewd T-shirt loses court appeal
Marten Youssef and Loveday Morris

Last Updated: June 18. 2009 11:16PM UAE

A Lebanese man is facing one month in jail and deportation for wearing a cancer awareness T-shirt depicting a near-naked woman, after losing an appeal yesterday.

In a brief hearing at Dubai Court of Appeals the judge upheld RN’s sentence of 30 days in jail followed by deportation on a charge of offending public decency. The defendant was not present. Neither was his lawyer.

According to court records RN, 28, was stopped at a bakery in Dubai on Nov 29 by an Arab man who confronted him over his T-shirt, which showed a nearly nude Victoria Beckham partially covered by the slogan “Protect the Skin You’re In”.
An argument ensued between the two, after which RN left to change his shirt, according to court documents. Police were called and three charges were initially pressed against the defendant: drunkenness, fleeing the scene of a conflict and offending public decency. The first two charges have since been dropped.

The defendant was detained for 48 hours, then released on bail. He submitted his passport to the police pending a judgment and was found guilty on April 19. He has been in prison since his first appeal hearing on June 11.

The defendant’s friend said there should be more clarity about the rules of dress in Dubai.

“You can go to the beach and see people wearing very little,” he said. “You can go to a mall or nightclub and see people dressed like that.”

The British government recently issued new travel advice for visitors to the UAE following a spate of high-profile cases of expatriates’ falling foul of the UAE’s rules on public behaviour.

The defendant is entitled to lodge a final appeal within 30 days.


  1. ... but that's Victoria Beckham ... I'd totally wear her!

  2. Moral values of how much skin you are allowed to show in public vary from place to another. Showing the nipple is irrelevant in the Arab world.

    The defendant is ARAB and he is a freaking brand manager for the company that sells fashion goods. He of all people ought to know what is acceptable and not acceptable to wear in the UAE. This is not an non-Arab or a non-Muslim who came to Dubai for a short visit and was thrown in Jail. He is Arab an he has been in Dubai for five years. He was also wearing t-shirts which his company SOLD - i.e. he is using nudity to further business activities. I don't find it surprising that he is being deported at all.

    The quotes by the defendants brother on that article are also very ridiculous. Obviously people wear different clothes on the beach and in the club, but you obviously make an active decision to go there expecting to see less clothing. You don't expect to see photos of naked women when you guy to the bakery to buy bread in the morning.

  3. The defendant is Lebanese, and with all due respect to Lebanese people, you can spend dayyys in Lebanon without realizing you're in an Arab country. I've seen more skin in Lebanon than I managed to see in Italy. And Then again, it's Dubai. I'm sure there are circles an parties and groups of socialites who move in rarified areas that we don't get to know of, kinda like I was left goggle-eyed the day I became an Intercon Club member; doors opened which I never knew existed.

    The defendant's friend is an idiot!


  4. Dragon- Being the pragmatist that you are (and remembering the statement you made on Bahrain liquor sales to F1-ers and Saudis), you made this statement about someone getting into trouble by wearing a soft porn tee shirt in Dubai- "This sort of thing is going to hurt the tourist trade." Is your criterion for something being right or wrong simply the effect it has on the tourist trade? Abd

  5. Abd.,


    In this case I think the arbitrariness of the sentence is the scary bit. I bet I could post 100 differently designed t shirts, and then see where everyone draws the line. I don't think its clear at all. What's the definition?

    A prison sentence for a t-shirt will, I think, strike outsiders as scary because, at the same time, a skimpy bikini by a 5 star pool is fine. Why risk such a draconian thing happening to you just because you do something totally acceptable in your own country, but suddenly you discover, enough to get your thrown in jail in the UAE.

    So, in that way I think it would negatively impact tourist income in UAE, which probably isn't good for us either.

    Plus, the GCC can't have it both ways - market yourself with beaches, booze, and a fun hedonistic lifestyle; and at the same time expect to be able to act like Saudi or the Taliban over a petty 'offensive' issue whenever you want without taking the consequences [ie that western people then won't come: ref. no. western tourists to Saudi lately].


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