Eleven women and a Russian male photographer have reportedly been arrested over a naked photoshoot on a Dubai balcony in the central Marina district in broad daylight, as raunchy photos emerged of some of the participants, the New York Post reports.
Around a dozen nude models were photographed standing on a high-rise apartment balcony in the United Arab Emirates city. Some of the models are minor social-media stars known to pose in barely-there bikinis amid glittering cityscapes.
Unconfirmed reports later suggested that the “stars” were mainly from the former Soviet Union, including Russia, Moldova, Ukraine and Belarus.
The video quickly spread throughout the internet, leading to the local police department getting interested.
Among the charges the group faces is public debauchery for allegedly violating the country’s uber-strict decency laws. The penalty is up to six months behind bars and a fine of nearly US$1,500.
The Ukrainian consulate confirmed to the BBC that 11 of its female citizens were detained in the roundup over the scorching balcony photoshoot and said consular officials will visit the women on Tuesday.
A Russian man who organised the scene and shot footage from a nearby balcony was arrested, too, the Sun reported, citing Russian news outlets.
On Monday morning, Moscow’s RIA Novosti news agency, reported a source as saying, “They appealed for help to the consulate general, but it’s difficult to do anything here. The law is quite serious about participation in lewd acts.”
The source suggested that the participants of the photoshoot could be pardoned as a gesture of leniency because of the approaching holy month of Ramadan.
Many of the UAE’s laws are based on shariah law, and people have been jailed in the past for public nudity and displays of affection.
Police in Dubai warned that anyone publishing pornographic material or any material that “may prejudice public morals” faces imprisonment and a fine.
“Such unacceptable behaviours do not reflect the values and ethics of Emirati society,” a police statement said.
Everybody who lives in or visits the UAE is subject to its laws. There are no exceptions for tourists and there have been a few high-profile cases of Westerners getting arrested while on holiday in Dubai.
In 2017, a British woman was sentenced to a year in prison for having consensual sex with a man she wasn’t married to. The relationship was revealed when she reported him to the authorities for sending her threatening messages.