After a glut of recent incidents involving foreigners falling afoul of Dubai’s laws, Dubai Public Prosecution (DPP) have developed an application for the Apple iPhone that gives all users a clear outline of what can and cannot be done on Dubai’s hedonistic yet strict shores.
The creation of the app follows a string of high-profile cases where foreigners, Brits included, encountered problems with Dubai law enforcement after engaging in activities that would be commonplace in the West, but are punishable by law in the Emirates. Earlier this year two British people were handed one-month jail sentences for allegedly kissing in public, despite the pair refuting these claims the courts decided that they were to be punished. Previously a British woman was caught having sexual intercourse on a beach and she too was given a jail term.
The problems have recently led to a backlash from natives of the UAE, who fear that the influx of Westerners is robbing Dubai of its holy cultural heritage. Despite the laws of Dubai already being published online it’s the latest infringements that have prompted the app to be made.
At the launch of the application Yousif Al Mutawa, Prosecutor General in Dubai said: “It’s a new and unique step - by putting all the laws in your phone, with one click you can see them. Many people get into trouble because they do not know the law here, our target is to spread the law and educate society. Anyone who wants to visit, to live or to open a business here should download this and read it (the app).”
The launch of the application also follows a recent statement from the British Foreign Office warning holidaymakers that they should not expect to be bailed out by the UK government should they get themselves into trouble abroad. Some foreigners claim that Dubai’s laws are not clear enough, for example public indecency itself is a vague term and many travellers are not sure as to what is wrong and what is right. Sean Tipton from the Association of British Travel Agents said: “There needs to be more clarity on what is and isn’t acceptable. In most cases, they’re dealing with western tourists, and everyone understands in an Islamic country you can’t act like a 17-year-old on a Saturday night in Manchester, but to what level certain behaviour is acceptable isn’t clear.”
The DPP hope that the iPhone app will help to clear up these muddy waters. The app itself can be downloaded free of charge from the Apple online application store.