Brunch patrol looks for drink offences
Anthony Richardson and Rasha Abu Baker
- Last Updated: July 11. 2008 3:59AM UAE / July 10. 2008 11:59PM GMT
Every Friday, thousands of residents and holidaymakers flock to hotel restaurants to enjoy the free-flowing drink and vast amounts of food that come as part of a typical brunch package. Ryan Carter / The National
DUBAI // Police are sending out extra patrols on Friday afternoons to catch people who misbehave after binge drinking at brunches.
The force was stationing more undercover and uniformed officers around hotels with licensed bars and other public places to handle alcohol-related misdemeanours on Fridays and Saturdays, said Col Khalil Ibrahim al Mansouri, the deputy director of the crime unit in the Criminal Investigation Department (CID).
“The police presence is intensified in all public places because so many people get out of their homes to enjoy the weekend,” he said. “We witness more trouble during this time than during the weekdays and more arrests are made by both undercover police and police patrols, which are both increased on Friday and Saturday.”
Every Friday, thousands of residents and holidaymakers flock to hotel restaurants to enjoy the free-flowing drink and vast amounts of food that come as part of a typical brunch package. Problems occasionally arise when the brunches finish – usually about 4pm – and groups of intoxicated patrons spill out onto the streets.
In addition to drink-related acts of violence, police patrols are on the lookout for acts of public indecency or other behaviour that could cause offence.
The announcement follows the arrests last week of two expatriates caught having intercourse on Jumeirah beach after a day of drinking.
The woman allegedly involved in the incident, Michelle Palmer, a sales manager from the UK who has been resident in the UAE for more than three years, now faces up to six years in prison, if convicted.
The other accused is Vincent Acors, who had been in the country for a few days before being arrested. “People have the right to consume alcohol in Dubai, usually in licensed hotels,” said Col Mansouri. “If people do not cause any problems, then the police will not interfere and are not in a position to arrest anyone just because they are walking out of a hotel.
“Frankly speaking, police normally do not interfere unless they receive a complaint, otherwise if people do not cause trouble, then we do not get involved.”
Acts of public indecency, however, were “unacceptable”, said Col Mansouri, and anyone caught committing them should be prepared to “handle the consequences”.
“Sexual contact is private and belongs behind closed doors and not in public,” he said. “If the police catch people taking part in less serious sexual contact, then they usually will let the individuals off with a caution. However, if it is serious then they will be taken in to face legal proceedings.”
One of Dubai’s most popular brunches is held at the Double Decker in Al Murooj Rotana hotel. The venue is typically packed on Fridays with mainly British expatriates and holidaymakers enjoying unlimited alcohol with their English breakfast buffet.
Julio Rodrigues, supervisor at the Double Decker, said although the brunches generally ran smoothly, fights sometimes broke out and occasionally the police had to be called. “It’s unlimited drink and so people tend to get a bit loud and sometimes there’s fighting, but we have a lot of bouncers who take care of these things,” he said. “It doesn’t happen every week – it depends if there are troublemakers inside.
“Sometimes the police get involved. We would call them if there was a big fight with blood all over the place, or if property was being destroyed. It’s quite rare that things get that out of hand, and the police always seem to respond quickly and arrest everyone involved in the incident.”
Regular brunch customers said they had occasionally witnessed minor disturbances.
Nicole Sutherland, 31, a South African sales executive, said brunches started off sensibly but often gave way to drunken antics as the afternoon wore on.
“It is always the acts of a few individuals who ruin it for the majority of us,” she said. “You are always going to get people misbehaving if they have been drinking for over 12 hours. I don’t think they should ban it, but they should have warnings about the dangers of all-day drinking and stop serving customers who appear drunk.”
Ian Nickolas, 28, a Dutch hairdresser, said: “I have only been in Dubai for a month and I have been surprised by how liberal it is when it comes to drinking and going out, and that’s been fantastic. I have been to the brunch at the Boston Bar twice and it was really good and value for money. There was a minor scuffle once when two people were asked to leave by the bouncers for smashing their glasses, but aside from that it has been an enjoyable experience.”
Lorraine Pacey, who arrived in Dubai a few months ago, said she had attended several brunches and had yet to witness any rowdiness.
“I’ve done the one near the Madinat Jumeirah and one day there was a large group of ladies that looked like a hen party as they were all wearing feather boas. They were quite loud, champagne was flowing and they looked like they were having a great time by the end of it, but there was no major trouble.”