Leave the poppy seed strudel at home if you’re heading to UAE

Yesterday, while wandering through Westside Market in Cleveland, I passed by several stalls laden with baked goods, some sporting poppy seed. The poppy seed strudel was mighty tempting. This brought to mind the sidebar I saw that was attached to the article about Michelle Palmer’s and Vince Acors escape from jail time in Dubai after they allegedly had sex on the beach.

Before Palmer and Acor’s legal woes in Dubai, there was an earlier account about how people who bring poppy seeds into the UAE can also meet serious trouble. There could be trouble even if there are only a few seeds dribbled on a coat after eating a bagel before heading off to Dubai. Iva posted on that very situation back in February. There was one Swiss person who had eaten a bagel with poppy seeds and was arrested.

While eyeing the poppy seed strudel and thinking how yummy it looked, I also remembered that poppy seeds are not allowed in Singapore either. At least, you couldn’t buy them when I lived there in the 1990s. Perhaps Singapore has loosened up, but I think not.

The issue with poppy seeds is the same issue in Dubai. Instead of baking with poppy seeds, people could just get a notion to turn them into opium. The thing is, from what I understand, opium is not made from poppy seeds, but from the unripe poppy seed pod. Eating poppy seeds, however, can result in a false positive for the drug. Tricky.

Because this is an older story, I checked the U.S. Department of State page on UAE to see if poppy seeds are still banned. Yes, they are. I looked on Singapore’s page to see if I could find out about poppy seeds. I couldn’t find a reference to them, but the don’ts in Singapore is a mighty hefty list.

Sex on the beach couple out of jail in Dubai

Remember the names Michelle Palmer and Vince Acors? They are the two Brits who weren’t really a couple until they met at a champagne brunch in Dubai, got drunk, and then proceeded to get frisky on a beach. Before that party, they didn’t know each other. After they became better acquainted after a cocktail or two, or who knows how many, their friskiness got them much international attention and jail time.

I sort of stood up for Ms. Palmer in an earlier post this summer before all the news came out that perhaps she had been warned by the police to stop her frolicking with Mr. Acors because what they were doing looked a like having sex. Instead of listening to the men in blue, or whatever colors the police wear in Dubai, she kept on with her male companion, who from the sounds of it, had about as much sense as she did. The two have claimed innocence to the sex part. Kissing? Yes. Nookie? No.

Regardless of what really went on, as Josh later posted these two were given a three-month sentence. I found out at Jaunted that these two are leaving Dubai after avoiding jail time. Instead of jail, their behavior will cost each them the equivalent of $272 and deportation. [Here’s an L.A. Times article with more info.]

That’s not such a bad amount of money, but I bet neither of them will look at an expanse of sand the same way again.

And for the rest of you who feel like a bit of friskiness on the beach, it can get you jail time. Really. Even in the U.S., sex on the beach can get you in trouble. If not jail time, there may be a world of embarrassment in your future.

Dubai Sex-on-the-Beach Couple Sentenced to Three Months in Jail

It has not been a good summer for Michelle Palmer and Vince Acors. The couple’s seaside tryst has turned into a courtroom drama complete with medical evidence and appeals. The two British citizens, despite the best efforts of their lawyers, and despite the black-eye it will give to Dubai’s tourist industry, have been sentenced to three months in prison. Their lawyer claims that an appeal is possible. The three month sentence (followed by immediate deportation) is much lighter than the six years possible under the emirate’s laws.

If this was an isolated incident, perhaps caused by an over-zealous prosecutor, it wouldn’t be more than tabloid fodder. However, as Jerry pointed out here at Gadling a couple of weeks ago, this is not an isolated case. Even carrying the natural, over the counter sleep aid Melatonin is reason enough to get you in trouble with the authorities in Dubai.

Palmer and Acors will be in jail for three months. Then, they’ll be deported, and most likely get their 15 minutes of fame. Perhaps Palmer can even turn the whole experience into a book deal or sell the rights to a movie studio. Dubai, on the other hand, will have to overcome the negative press it received from this case, and all the other cases that this one has brought attention too.

Having sex on a beach can get you jail time

World travel is a wonderful thing–or can have dire consequences when cultures clash. Having sex in a public place isn’t exactly celebrated in western culture, but it’s not uncommon–particularly under the cover of night when the stretch of a beach seems private.

In some cultures having “safe sex” is more than using a condom.

In Dubai, if you get caught having sex in public, you will get arrested and face years in jail–six in fact. Such is the possible fate of Michelle Palmer, a British woman who has worked in Dubai for three years. She and her male companion were caught having sex. If all goes well, she might only be in jail for three months–the minimum sentence.

The story is not complicated. Palmer, a manager of ITP Publishing was at a champagne brunch where the bubbly stuff flowed. Eventually, smashed and feeling frisky, she and a man headed to the beach for some adult fun and letting off steam.

Unfortunately, the police came along. Having sex in public in Dubai is not the only big no-no. So is having sex if you are unmarried. So is being drunk. Three strikes, you’re out. Or in–as in jail.

This article in MailOnline gives the scoop. As I’m reading between the lines, I see a traveler’s tale that is not so uncommon of others I’ve heard. When living in a culture that is different from ones own, it’s difficult to stay vigilant–to not slide into comfort and think that you’re safe when you are being yourself.

These women SHOULD have gotten jail time, no?

Yes, people who live overseas know that if you live in another culture, and the laws are strict, you need to abide by them. In the beginning, that’s not so hard. You’re caught up in a new culture, new experiences and you’re a well-behaved guest. Then, guest status wanes, and you get bored–or complacent– or horny. Mix in alcohol and there’s a recipe for a world of trouble. Sometimes the trouble is so silly, it’s hard to believe.

A friend of mine was at the end of three years of living in Saudi Arabia. He was at a party, had a bit to drink, and decided that the Canadian nurse who needed a ride ought to be able to get in the front seat of his car. They were arrested, tossed into prison, and he had no idea what was to become of him, particularly when his head was shaved and he was transported to a jail away from the city. In Saudi Arabia, an unmarried man and woman should not be out in public together. The woman is also not supposed to be in the front seat of a car, no matter who is driving. They were not dating. He was just giving her a ride.

Luckily for my friend, his company got involved. His boss was friends with a Saudi prince. My friend was sprung after two weeks. The Canadian nurse was released also, but “prostitute” was stamped in her passport. My friend can’t go back to Saudi Arabia.

In Palmer’s case, her company has dumped her since the company’s aim is to maintain a good standing in Dubai. That also is not uncommon. If you have troubles overseas, don’t expect help. People and companies will usually cut their losses to protect themselves.

Palmer, of course, wants this nightmare to be over and has stated that she’s a good person. Of course she is, and I mean this sincerely. The problem is that all beaches are not the same and when you’re traveling, keep that in mind.

If you have an urge to have sex, be very, very careful. Sure you have the condom, but that’s not all that’s needed to have safe sex in all circumstances–particularly if you’re female. Notice that so far only Palmer has had her situation flaunted. Only the Canadian nurse was called a prostitute. My friend just lost his hair and that grew back.

The guy has only been mentioned in Palmer’s story. All that’s known is his name is Vince and he may have made Palmer an honest woman by marrying her.

I hope people get behind Palmer and help her get out of this mess. Since three months is the minimum sentence, I’m hoping she gets lucky.

UPDATE: The man is also being jailed.

Please keep your comments relevant to the topic. All abusive comments will be deleted. — Ed.