Police in Dubai have arrested 11 Ukrainian women and a Russian man for their involvement in a nude photoshoot on a high-rise balcony after footage of the same went viral, foreign media reported.

Dubai is a top destination for the world’s Instagram influencers and models, who fill their social media feeds with bikini-clad selfies from the coastal city’s luxury hotels and artificial islands.

But the city’s brand as a glitzy foreign tourist destination has at times provoked controversy and collided with Emirates’ strict rules governing public behavior and expression based on Islamic law.


The nude photoshoot scandal comes just days before the holy month of Ramzan and as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky lands in nearby Doha, Qatar, for an official state visit.

Over the years, Dubai increasingly has promoted itself as a popular destination for Russians on holiday. Signs in Cyrillic are a common sight at the city’s major malls.

Dubai police announced earlier this week they had arrested a group of people on debauchery charges over a widely-shared video showing naked women posing in broad daylight on a balcony overlooking the city’s upscale Marina neighborhood

Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry confirmed on Tuesday that 11 of the detained women were Ukrainian, while a Russian diplomat in Dubai said the photographer who filmed the naked women held Russian citizenship.

Police declined to identify those detained. More than a dozen women appeared in the video and the nationalities of the others arrested were not immediately known.

The detainees are reportedly being deported.