Crime Beat: Tiger Woods’ Other Problem Is Dubai’s Meltdown — and Its Adultery Laws


Tiger Woods may be lucky that his adulterous behavior surfaced now instead of next year. The first golf course he has designed is scheduled to open in 2010 in Dubai, which has harsh laws against adultery that call for flogging and imprisonment.

He may be luckier still (even though it wouldn’t seem so) that high-flying Dubai is undergoing a financial collapse. The 2010 opening of his course has recently been delayed because of the desert kingdom’s meltdown.

The beleaguered golfer may have to change the name of the course: It’s currently called Al Ruwaya, which means “serenity.”

The outrageously huge and lavish development includes 100 villas, 75 mansions, 22 palaces and a 360,000-square-foot boutique hotel, plus a 139,000-square-foot clubhouse.

The golf course developer is Tatweer, owned by Dubai’s king, Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. Golf Digest previews the layout in Architecture: A peek at Tiger’s first course.

Not that Tiger would be flogged or jailed if he were caught screwing around in Dubai. Men are doglegs, but in that male-centric place, usually it’s only the women who get punished.

But the strict anti-adultery laws are often used as ploys in divorce and child-custody cases, as the case of Brits Mark Hawkins and Sally Antia shows. Her airline pilot husband accused the two of adultery, and they were immediately jailed. She faces the loss of custody of her children.

Adultery is still technically a crime in Tiger’s home state of Florida, though it’s rarely prosecuted. However, adultery is grounds for divorce in Florida, among other states. (Memo to Tiger’s wife: See this explanation of how to prove an “adulterous disposition.”)

Even in Florida, Tiger might have escaped without an even nastier potential divorce and/or custody dispute between himself and his wife if he had just had oral sex with his girlfriends.

Under Florida law, the sexual intercourse that defines adultery must involve “some penetration” but neither party has to come. On the other hand, fellatio and cunnilingus are not grounds for divorce. Apparently, even swallowing doesn’t count.

In New York, adultery is still technically a class B misdemeanor, and it’s defined as “sexual intercourse with another person at a time when he has a living spouse, or the other person has a living spouse.” Even if no one gets jailed for it, adultery remains one of the main grounds for divorce.

In Dubai, any sexual contact not within the bounds of marriage is considered immoral and criminal. So when Al Ruwaya finally opens, Tiger might want to watch himself. Even if he has separated from his wife by that time, any fooling around with other women in Dubai before his divorce would become final would put them in grave danger of being imprisoned for months even before trial.

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