06/16/2009 11:11 PM
Dubai: British holidaymakers have been warned they face serious consequences if they are caught sunbathing topless or behaving indecently in the UAE.
The advice, issued by the British Government's Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) on Tuesday, follows numerous high profile cases of British travellers getting into trouble on foreign shores, including several in the UAE.
The updated warning is part of the FCO's 'Know Before You Go' campaign, which was launched in 2001 to help keep Brits safe and healthy abroad. The new advice says "thousands of British tourists risk arrest by not checking local laws and customs before they bare all abroad".
Last year, a British couple gained worldwide notoriety when they were arrested for public indecency on Dubai's Jumeirah beach. They were given a three-month suspended jail term and then deported.
The couple had been drinking heavily at one of the city's Friday brunches prompting many hotels to remind guests of the etiquette expected at such events. Several malls have also started to hand out pamphlets reminding shoppers they should dress appropriately.
Simon Goldsmith, Second Secretary for Political and Media Affairs at the British Embassy in Dubai, said: "We want people to have an enjoyable and memorable visit to the UAE. The 'Know Before You Go' campaign helps people make informed decisions about issues such as local laws and customs; we commend it to anyone thinking of visiting the UAE.
"The British government has been running the 'Know Before You Go' campaign for a number of years now and it seems sensible to re-emphasise the main points now when the majority of British residents are thinking about taking their annual holidays."
New statistics released by the FCO yesterday show that 24 per cent of British women have sunbathed topless, one in 20 British men have admitted to 'mooning' or 'streaking' - exposing themselves in public - on holiday and over half of Britons travelling abroad have kissed in a public place.
The FCO has also released a hard-hitting commercial in the UK that urges holidaymakers to check out laws and customs on its website before travelling.
Jess Prasad, Manager of the FCO's 'Know Before You Go Campaign' said, "Different countries have different laws and customs, and what's acceptable in Spain may not be acceptable in Greece or Turkey. With more people travelling outside the euro zone this year it is ever more important that people familiarise themselves with the local laws and customs before they go."
Warning: Important advice
-In many destinations, including the UAE, wearing skirts above the knee is unacceptable behaviour that could lead to fines or official warnings.
- Making rude gestures is considered an obscene act can be (and have been) prosecuted
- Topless sunbathing is strictly forbidden and can result in prosecution or deportation.
- Kissing in public is an offence in the country.