A group have been arrested on charges of public debauchery in Dubai, police have said.
A video depicting more than a dozen naked women posing on a balcony in the city was shared widely on social media on Saturday, leading to the arrest of a group of people under Article 361 of the Federal Penal Code in Dubai.
The article states that “whoever publicly appeals, sings or engages in lewd speech, and whoever seduces others publicly into debauchery in any manner whatsoever, shall be punished by detention for at most six months and by a fine not exceeding Dh5,000 (£985), or by either of these two penalties”.
The sharing of pornographic materials in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), where the regulations are based on Sharia law, is also punishable with prison time and hefty fines.
Multiple videos and photographs, which showed more than a dozen naked women on a balcony in the upscale neighbourhood of Marina, were shared all over social media.
It came as a shock in the federation of seven Arab sheikhdoms, where tamer behaviour, like kissing in public or drinking alcohol without a license, has landed people in jail. State-linked newspaper The National reported it appeared to be a “publicity stunt”, without elaborating.
Dubai police called the “indecent” video “unacceptable” and said the behaviours depicted “do not reflect the values and ethics of Emirati society”.
In a statement shared on Twitter, police said: “A criminal case has been registered against the arrested, and they have been referred to the Public Prosecution for further legal action.”
The UAE, while liberal in many regards compared to its Middle Eastern neighbours, has strict laws governing expression. People have been jailed for their comments and videos online. The country’s majority state-owned telecom companies block access to major pornographic websites.
Additional reporting by Associated Press