• Kamran Jebreili/AP

    Persian Gulf

    Dubai’s Progressive Charade

    Hidden behind Dubai’s modern façade is a battle between its ambition to be a tourist mecca and its conservative laws to deal with rape.

    With its luxury high-rises and shopping malls chock-full of designer shops, Dubai exudes the cosmopolitan façade of a city firmly set in the shiny 21st century. Complete with the tallest building in the world, it seems to be the beacon of modernity in the oil-saturated United Arab Emirates. And tourism numbers show the outside world agrees. This May, the annual MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index ranked Dubai seventh among cities with the most international travel and spending. But in the past few years, a series of high-profile jailings of foreigners depicts a very different Dubai, one not on the travel posters: a conservative country governed by hard-line Islamist law and patrolled by police who are more inclined to blame victims than catch the perpetrators of sexual violence.

    Last Wednesday, 24-year-old Marte Deborah Dalelv returned home to Norway from a nightmarish ordeal. In the months prior, she claimed she’d been raped by a colleague after a night out with her business partners during a work trip in Dubai. Upon reporting the case to the police, she was ultimately convicted of extramarital sex (a jailable offense in the country), drinking alcohol, and perjury—and was sentenced to 16 months in prison.

  • Kamran Jebreili/AP


    Dubai Pardons Rape Victim

    Norwegian woman had been charged for sex outside marriage.

    The fact that she has to be "pardoned" makes this still horrifying. Dubai pardoned a Norwegian woman who was charged with having extramarital sex after she reported a rape to the police. The woman, Marie Deborah Dalelv, had gone to the police after allegedly being raped by a co-worker in March, but she was instead charged and her sentence began last week. She went public last week to pressure the authorities in Dubai—and to challenge the city’s attempt to be known as modern. Dalelv said she is “overjoyed” her sentence is over. She has her passport back and plans to leave the United Arab Emirates soon.

    Read it at Associated Press
  • Kamran Jebreili/AP

    'I Didn't Like It'

    Norwegian Woman: I Was Raped

    Faces prison sentence in Dubai.

    It was a nightmare work trip. Norwegian interior designer Marte Deborah Dalelv is facing a 16-month prison sentence after reporting that she was raped to Dubai police. The 24-year-old tells CNN that she was at a bar, when she asked a colleague to walk her back to the room--only she was taken to another room where she was raped. After calling the police, she was asked whether she had reported the incident because she "just didn't like it." She now faces charges of unlawful sex, illegal consumption of alcohol and perjury (her manager had first advised her to say the sex was voluntary.) Dalelv is out on bail and staying at the Norwegian Seaman's Center in Dubai.

  • Kamran Jebreili/AP


    Raped, Then Sentenced to Jail

    Norwegian woman says she was assaulted in Dubai.

    A Norwegian woman went public today with information that she was allegedly raped in Dubai and subsequently sentenced Wednesday to 16 months in jail for having sex outside marriage. Marte Deborah Dalelv, 24, said she was sexually assaulted by a coworker while working for an interior-design firm in Qatar. After the attack, she asked hotel workers to call the authorities. She said her rapist received a 13-month sentence for out-of-marriage sex and alcohol consumption. Dalelv not only wants to bring justice for herself but also wants to warn outsiders of risks in Islamic countries, she said. Dalelv was allowed to stay in a Norwegian aid compound in Dubai, where her appeal is scheduled to take place in September.