Russian arrested for filming naked women on Dubai balcony

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Police in Dubai have arrested a Russian citizen for filming several naked women on a high-rise balcony in the city, a Russian diplomat said Tuesday, after footage of the nude photo shoot went viral and prompted a crackdown in the Gulf Arab sheikhdom.

More than a dozen foreign women who had posed naked in the photo shoot were detained, but only the photographer carried Russian citizenship, Ivan Gubanov, the Russian vice consul in Dubai, told The Associated Press.

The photographer’s name was not released and the nationalities of the women were not immediately known. Gubanov referred further questions on criminal proceedings to the Dubai police, which did not respond to a request for comment.

Earlier this week, Dubai police announced they had arrested a group on debauchery charges over the video showing naked women posing in broad daylight on a balcony overlooking the upscale Marina neighborhood. The footage came as a shock in the United Arab Emirates, a federation of seven sheikhdoms with strict rules governing public behavior and expression, which are based on Islamic law, or Shariah.

Violations of the public decency law in the UAE, including for nudity and other “lewd behavior,” carry penalties of up to six months in prison and a fine of 5,000 dirhams ($1,360). The sharing of pornographic material is also punishable with prison time and hefty fines. The country’s majority state-owned telecom companies block access to pornographic websites.

Foreigners, who make up some 90% of the UAE’s population of over 9 million, previously have landed in jail for their comments online, as well as for offenses considered tame in the West, like kissing in public.

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