Dubai - A British couple on trial for allegedly having sex on a Dubai beach asked the judge on Tuesday to be allowed to leave the country.

Michelle Palmer and Vince Acors, speaking in low voices, asked the judge for a "quick ruling" that would let them return to Britain. But judge Hamad Abdul Jawad disregarded the request and scheduled another hearing for September 9 to hear testimony from the police officer who arrested the couple.

Palmer, 36, and Acors, 34, were arrested on a Dubai beach early on July 5, after they had both been at a hotel party. They have been charged with having sex outside of marriage, public indecency and public drunkenness.

The case has highlighted the strong contrasts in the booming United Arab Emirates, particularly Dubai. The city has a much more freewheeling attitude than elsewhere in the Gulf, with cash flowing from oil and finance and a huge expatriate population. But the case is a reminder that it remains a conservative Arab nation underneath.

Legal experts say the couple could face up to two years in prison if convicted.

The case has raised a media storm, and part way through Tuesday's session the judge ordered journalists out of the court. - Sapa-AP