The case is the latest in which Westerners have fallen foul of the United Arab Emirates’ decency laws, highlighting cultural differences as the UAE seeks a balance between maintaining its Muslim identity and catering for a vibrant tourism industry.
Conor McRedmond, 28, from Tullamore, Co Offaly, and Rebecca Blake, 29, of Dorking, Surrey, both denied charges of “breach of honour with consent” and committing “an indecent act in a taxi” when they appeared in court last month.
They had pleaded guilty to a third charge related to consumption of alcohol in public.
“The court sentenced them to jail for three months and deportation in addition to a fine of 3,000 dirhams (€634) each,” their lawyer Shaker al-Shammary said, adding that they would appeal.
The conviction came despite DNA tests to show evidence of intercourse in the taxi coming back negative.
Blake, a £100,000-a-year recruitment consultant, was accused of stripping naked in the back of a Dubai cab and sitting on top of Mr McRedmond.
The taxi driver told the court he picked up the pair at 11pm after they had engaged in an all-day drinking binge and claimed they began having sex in the back seat. He alerted a passing policeman who arrested the pair.
The convicted couple say they are being victimised as they complained to the taxi driver earlier that he was trying to overcharge them for their journey by taking a longer route to their destination.
There have been several cases in recent years of Westerners accused of violating decency laws in Dubai, the most cosmopolitan of the seven-member UAE federation.
In 2008, a British couple was found guilty of engaging in drunken sexual activity out of wedlock and in public on a beach in Dubai. They were sentenced to three months in prison followed by deportation but had their jail terms overturned on appeal.
In 2010, another British couple were sentenced to a month in jail and fined for kissing on the mouth in a restaurant in Dubai.
The cultural chasm in the Gulf Arab state between the country’s native Muslim population and the expatriate community, is conspicuous in everyday life.
While Emirati women cover themselves from head to toe with a headscarf and a traditional black gown, some of their Western expatriate counterparts walk around in shorts or mini-skirts, and public beaches are full of tourists sunbathing in bikinis.
Islam bans alcohol for Muslims. In the UAE, non-Muslims can drink at most hotels and beach bars where all-you-can-drink brunches heave with revellers every weekend.
Expatriates make up more than 90% of the UAE’s population.