Notes on a scandal: Michelle Palmer and sex on a Dubai beach

This drink is called “sex on the beach”


The case of Michelle Palmer, in court accused of having sex on a beach in Dubai, highlights the chasm between the desert state’s conservative values and the personal freedoms treasured by many Western expats

Michelle Palmer arrived in court tired, shaky but precisely on time. Innocuously dressed in a conservative black trouser suit and modest green-printed scarf, she sank into an empty bench on the “ladies-only” side of Chamber No17 of Dubai’s Court of First Instance. She barely glanced to the other side of the courtroom, where half a dozen Fleet Street journalists craned to catch her eye and record her every move.

They were there to record the verdict in a case that all summer has dominated headlines in what has been billed as a sensational example of what happens when Western values clash with this conservative Gulf emirate’s laws. Would the judge sentence Palmer and Vince Acors to a six-year prison term for allegedly having drunken sex on a Dubai beach?

The truth, as it turned out, was that everybody would have to wait another week to find out. The couple were in court simply to find out the date for their trial. The verdict was just a rumour, like so much else surrounding this case.

“They’ve all flown out here for nothing,” Palmer whispered to me under her breath, with a slight roll of her eyes.

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