Dubai Deals With Expat Debauchery

Many were arrests for drug-related offenses under Dubai's zero tolerance policy for possession of marijuana and other narcotics. Possession of even small amounts of drugs -- and the presence of narcotics in the bloodstream can count as possession -- can lead to a minimum of four years in prison.

Such was the case for American Dallas Austin, a Grammy-winning music producer arrested in Dubai for drug possession in 2006. Austin, who is behind songs by Madonna and Gwen Stefani, was traveling to Naomi Campbell's birthday party at the seven-star Burj Al Arab when Dubai authorities caught him with 1.26 grams of cocaine. Held without bail at a local police station, he was convicted and sentenced to a four-year term but pardoned soon after by Dubai's ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

Some expat offenders are less flagrant, and merely get caught in the cross hairs of cultural difference. Wearing short shorts and short sleeves in Sharjah, Dubai's more conservative neighbor, is not allowed. If visiting any Gulf country during Ramadan, the Muslim holy month, punishable offenses include eating, drinking or smoking in public.

But the cases that grab most attention involve expats behaving badly.

"Dubai is a fast-growing city. You do tend to go to excesses," said Kraenzlin. "At the end of the day, when a few people misconduct, it reflects on the countries they come from."

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