A British couple was convicted of adultery in Dubai and given two months in jail Tuesday, several months after a separate British couple was sentenced to prison for having sex on a beach in this glitzy Gulf sheikdom.
The cases highlight the conservative legal code that governs Dubai, a city-state that has advertised itself as a tourist and business mecca in the heart of the Middle East. It caters heavily to Western tastes and lifestyles for its international allure, but its legal code is based on Islamic laws and tribal rules.
Sally Antia and her lover, Mark Hawkins, were arrested May 2 after leaving a Dubai luxury hotel in the early morning hours, according to court documents. Antia's husband, Vince, alerted the police to his wife's infidelity.
Antia, a mother of two who has been living in Dubai for more than a decade, pleaded guilty to having a sexual relationship outside of marriage when she appeared in court with Hawkins, who denied the charge.
Hawkins' lawyer, Aiman Mirdas, asked the court for leniency during the hearing Tuesday, saying his client was visiting the country and didn't know its laws, the Dubai daily 7Days reported. He said the two have been friends for four years.
The lawyer could not be reached independently for comment.
The couple has been in prison since their arrest and will be deported after they serve one more month in jail. Local media reported they are both in their 40s.
Last October, a British couple was convicted of having sex on a Dubai beach and sentenced to three months in prison. Michelle Palmer and Vince Acors, who are both in their 30s, eventually had their sentences suspended by an appeals court and were deported.
Dubai has gained a reputation as an anything-goes corner of the conservative Muslim Gulf. To shed the image, authorities here recently drafted tougher morality laws, regulating anything from the length of women's skirts to foul language and gestures in public.