Dubai pardons woman at center of rape dispute

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — With her passport back in hand, a Norwegian woman at the center of a Dubai rape claim dispute said Monday that officials dropped her 16-month sentence for having sex outside marriage in the latest clash between the city’s Islamic-based legal codes and its international branding as a Western-friendly haven.

Dubai authorities hope the pardon of the 24-year-old woman will allow them to sidestep another potentially embarrassing blow to the city’s heavily promoted image as a forward-looking model of luxury, excess and cross-cultural understanding.

‘‘I am very, very happy,’’ Marte Deborah Dalelv said after she was cleared by the order of Dubai’s ruler. Most foreign residents and visitors coast through Dubai’s relatively tolerant lifestyle , until a legal line is crossed.

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