Burj Khalifa in Dubai.
(Getty Images)

  • A group of women were arrested in Dubai after a video circulated showing people nude on a balcony.
  • Public 'lewd acts' are punishable with steep fines and jail in the United Arab Emirates.
  • 11 of the women arrested were Ukrainian, the country's embassy said.
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Police in Dubai arrested a group of people accused of appearing nude in a video, violating the emirate's strict public morality laws, according to a statement Saturday.

The arrests came after a video spread on social media showing more than a dozen women naked on a balcony, an act which is punishable with imprisonment and a fine.

The police statement did not identify the specific video, but appeared to be responding to the social-media commentary.

Footage from the video appears to have been taken from another building in the fashionable Marina district where the shoot took place. Further images, from inside the apartment the women were in, were also circulated.

It's unclear how many women were in the video, but Russian media company Life said 40 were involved. More than a dozen appear to be shown in the video shot from another balcony.

The video was part of a photoshoot organized by a Russian man, the Russian state news wire RIA reported, citing diplomats.

After Life reported that eight of the women were Russian, the Russian embassy in Dubai issued a denial, saying that the women were instead Ukrainian, Life reported.

The Ukrainian consulate told the BBC that 11 of the women were Ukrainian and that it would be visiting them on Tuesday.

The behaviours on display "do not reflect the values and ethics of Emirati society," the police statement read.

Importing pornography into the United Arab Emirates is illegal, and most porn sites are blocked. Public "lewd speech" and acts - or encouraging them - are criminalized under Dubai's laws, as well as sharing pornographic material, police said.

If found guilty, the women involved face a fine of up to R20,000 and six months' imprisonment, the police statement said.

The punishment for sharing such materials is much more steep, carrying the threat of prison and a fine of up to R2 million, police said. The man accused of organising the shoot is being held by police, according to The National, a state-linked Emirati paper.

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