British woman detained briefly after stripping down to a bikini in upscale Dubai shopping mall

By Michael Casey, AP
Thursday, August 5, 2010

Bikini-clad Briton briefly detained in Dubai mall

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — A British woman was briefly detained after stripping down to a bikini and walking in her beach wear through a five-star mall in Dubai, a police official in the Gulf emirate said Thursday.

According to the official, the British woman was shopping in the mall Wednesday, when a conservatively dressed Emirati woman came up to her and criticized her for wearing a low-cut top.

The two woman started arguing, then the Briton stripped down to her bikini and walked away like that through the mall, popular for its many luxury shops.

The mall, one of the world’s largest, has signs asking shoppers to dress modestly, although Westerners in short skirts and revealing blouses routinely ignore the advisories.

The mall security subsequently detained both women and took them to a police station for questioning.

They were released later in the day, after the Emirati woman lodged a complaint for public indecency against the Briton, said the police official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

The British woman’s name was not released.

British Embassy spokesman Simon Goldsmith said embassy officials were aware of the incident and had offered consular assistance to the woman.

The incident is the latest in a string of cases involving frisky Westerners in Dubai, a cosmopolitan city-emirate with the most lenient social codes in the Gulf but a tendency to crackdown on foreigners who ignore the rules.

In March, a British couple were sentenced to a month in jail for passionately kissing in public while an Indian couple was sentenced to three months’ prison for exchanging steamy text messages.

In 2008, two Britons accused of having sex on the beach got three months behind bars, though their sentences were later suspended.

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