A search and rescue official in Dubai says it was one of the most disturbing cases of his career. The father of a 20-year-old woman let her drown rather than have her "dishonored" by being touched by male lifeguards, Lt. Col. Ahmed Burqibah, the deputy director of the Dubai Police's Search and Rescue Department, tells Emirates 24/7. Burqibah says the shocking incident happened at a Dubai beach and involved a man he describes as "Asian." He says the lifeguards rushed to help when they heard the woman's screams and they would have been able to save her if the father hadn't fought them.
"The father was a tall and strong man. He started pulling and preventing the rescue men and got violent with them," Burqibah says. "He told them that he prefers his daughter being dead than being touched by a strange man." It's not clear exactly when the incident happened (one report suggests it might have actually happened in 1996), but Burqibah says the father was arrested and prosecuted for preventing rescuers from doing their job. A safety official at the Dubai Festival City development tells Hotelier Middle East that while "cultural sensitivities" make it important to hire female lifeguards, the community needs to realize that male lifeguards must be allowed to act when necessary. (A Colorado man who felt something unusual brush his foot saved a 3-year-old from drowning.)