The Dubai Misdemeanour Court handed Marte Deborah Dalelv, a three-month imprisonment for falsely reporting to police that she was raped, a month’s imprisonment for drinking and 12 months for having consensual sex. Image Credit: Pankaj Sharma/Gulf News

Dubai: Marte Deborah Dalelv maintains that she was raped. But new details have emerged from an interview with Gulf News, where Dalelv revealed she initially told authorities she had had consensual sex.

The Norwegian, who lived and worked as an interior designer in Qatar, was on a business trip to Dubai in March. Having gone out for drinks with her colleagues, she says one of her co-workers, an Arab man, raped her that same evening. She then contacted the reception to call the police, and says she was asked by the receptionist at the front desk if she was sure she wanted to get the police involved. After a lengthy court case, both Dalelv and the Arab man were found guilty last week of having sex outside of marriage.

But Dalelv – who’s now camped up in the Norwegian Seamen’s Centre in Oud Metha – says she is going to appeal the case. Speaking to Gulf News, she says she was encouraged by her former boss early on after the incident to tell authorities that the sex was consensual, and not rape. He allegedly told her it would lead to a quicker resolution of the case and that it wouldn’t go to court. “At that point, I didn’t want to go to court. I just wanted to go home, so I took that advice. And that’s the biggest mistake I’ve ever made.”

The case did go to court, and that’s when Dalelv changed her story back to her original statement, claiming she was raped. “I can’t blame anyone else here but me, because nobody forced me to say it. I just wish I hadn’t taken that advice.” She’s now trying to challenge the case and has lodged a formal appeal. “I’m going to stay and fight this. I know I haven’t done anything wrong,” Dalelv says.

The court has set a date of September 5 for her appeal hearing to start. In the meanwhile, Dalelv says she will stay in the Seamen’s Centre – rather than seek refuge in the Norwegian Embassy or Consulate. “I won’t go to the Embassy, because that would be hiding. I don’t want to do that as I believe I have no need to hide.”

Dalelv says she is not expecting diplomatic pressure to influence her appeal. “I understand that it’s a matter for the UAE courts to decide. Just as you wouldn’t expect the UAE to get involved in a Norwegian court case, that’s something countries cannot do.”

Even though she has been sentenced, she has told Gulf News the police are not actively pursuing her arrest, and that she plans on staying at the Seamen’s Centre for now, but “as soon as this is over, I just want to go home to Norway.”

Nawied Jabarkhyl is Newsreader and Reporter with Radio 1 and Radio 2