By Courtney Trenwith
A young Norwegian woman has been sentenced to 16 months’ jail in Dubai after she reported being raped.
Marte Deborah Dalelv, 24, was convicted of having extramarital sex, making a false statement and illegal consumption of alcohol.
Dalelv was living in Qatar and working for interior design company Al Mana Interiors, which is owned by Qatari billionaire Wissam Al Mana, who secretly married singer Janet Jackson in 2012.
She was on a short business trip in Dubai in March when she claims she was raped by a colleague after asking him to escort her to her hotel room at the end of a work event where they had both been drinking alcohol.
He led her to the wrong room and pulled her in, she told CNN News. She then blacked out and woke up naked lying on her stomach and he was raping her.
She said it only ended when a member of the hotel staff knocked on the door for the colleague’s wake up call.
Dalelv said she immediately reported the incident to police. About a dozen male police officers arrived at the hotel and questioned both her and the rapist, a Sudanese man married with three children.
She was taken to Bur Dubai police station and held for four days without an explanation, she said.
After eventually being allowed to phone her parents and requesting they contact the Norwegian embassy she was granted bail but her passport was confiscated. She has reportedly since been staying at the Norwegian Seaman's Center in Dubai, unable to leave the UAE.
The first time she knew she was facing charges was when she was given a piece of paper written in Arabic when she was bailed.
She claims she was advised by her manager to tell the police the sex was consensual and the entire matter would be dropped. She did so, but was instead given a third charge: with making a false statement.
After a month of being unable to leave Dubai, she was fired by Al Mana Interiors.
A company representative told CNN News both Dalelv and the rapist had been fired for "drinking alcohol at a staff conference that resulted in trouble with the police". The colleague was sentenced to 13 months for rape.
A statement from Al Mana Interiors spokesman Hani El Korek said the company was sympathetic to Dalelv "during this very difficult situation", that it had supported her during the initial investigation and had helped get her released from jail.
"Only when Ms. Dalelv declined to have positive and constructive discussions about her employment status, and ceased communication with her employer, was the company forced to end our relationship with her," the statement said.
"The decision had nothing to do with the rape allegation, and unfortunately neither Ms. Dalelv nor her attorneys have chosen to contact the company to discuss her employment status".
The case has made international headlines and is dominating news in Norway.
Norwegian Foreign Affairs Minister Espen Barth Eide phoned his UAE counterpart, Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed al-Nahyan, on Friday to protest Dalelv's sentencing, a statement from the Norwegian ministry said.
"I emphasised that we believe that the conviction is contrary to fundamental human rights, including conventions that the UAE have officially ratified," Eide said.
"Norway will continue to do what we can to support her in what is a very difficult situation. Our cooperation with the UAE is strong and good, but I conveyed to my colleague that we are worried that this difficult case may disturb our good relations if we do not reach a good solution in the near future."
Dalelv’s appeal is due to be heard on September 5.
It has not been revealed whether the alleged rapist was also charged.