UAE border control officers who took advantage of their positions to flirt with women travelers were recently sentenced to three years in jail, The National reported. The five men - whose nationalities and ages were not made public - were also fined 100,000 dirhams ($27,223) each after being found guilty by Abu Dhabi's Criminal Court.
Court records made public on Wednesday revealed the men abused their power to get the women's phone numbers, which they then used to message the travelers and start relationships with them.
The defendants were reported to police by their managers, who spotted them flirting with women over a period of several months, starting in 2018. Though they were warned by their bosses to stop the unacceptable behavior, the accused refused to listen.
Soon after they were reported to authorities, police arrested the men and confiscated their phones. Prosecutors reviewed surveillance footage taken at the border control office in which the men were seen speaking to women and taking down their mobile numbers.
Under questioning, the officers "admitted to flirting with women and starting up conversations over the phone."
Four of the defendants were temporarily suspended from their jobs and one was permanently terminated. The person who was fired was also separately convicted of sharing confidential work information with others.
The man reportedly tricked colleagues into giving him a few of the women's contact details and then shared the information with the rest of the defendants. This defendant was sentenced to an additional three years in jail for sharing "confidential information with others."
The men's charge is "beautifying sin"
All five men were sentenced under the "beautifying sin" article which is "a charge attributed to any act considered indecent according to Sharia, in this case, a relationship between an unmarried, unrelated man and woman."
The offense is listed in the UAE penal law under the title "Crimes that affect religious beliefs and practices."
If committed in public, these crimes are punishable by a minimum of one year in jail or a fine. However, the offenses can still lead to fines or prison terms even if done in private, which usually depends on the case.