Considering a Dubai holiday? Leave your girlfriend at home
Stories like what was revealed today make me wonder how any Western couple could take a pleasure trip to Dubai, where everything is available - yet seemingly illegal.
The United Kingdom press is understandably livid after it was revealed a British woman was raped in a Dubai restaurant bathroom by a waiter - and SHE was jailed the next morning. Articles are popping up all over the place today, here’s an account from The Guardian. And one from the Herald Sun.
The summary is that a man took his girlfriend to Dubai on a New Year’s trip and proposed to her at a restaurant. They celebrated with drinks, and when she went to the bathroom, a waiter followed her in and raped her. If that’s not horrible enough, when they reported the crime to the police, the couple was jailed for having sex outside marriage.
Apparently in a city where money rules, immigrant laborers are paid the lowest of wages (and often late, if at all) and prostitution is available in many hotel bars and nightclubs, you can’t tell police that you share a room with your girl/boyfriend.
The Guardian article also reports that under U.A.E. law, the couple could face up to six years jail time.
Dubai has become a big player in the golf world, hiring Tiger Woods to build his first ever golf course. It’s also become the biggest stage on the European Tour with two events, including the “Race to Dubai” season-ending tournament and prize money similar to the FedEx Cup in America. It’s also a destination that the travel industry consistently gushes about, thanks to shiny new hotels frequently opening that are snazzier than the next, like Monday’s revealing of the world’s tallest skyscraper.
I’m curious how some of the U.K. tour players, many of whom we can assume have brought girlfriends to the tournament with them in years past, react to this news, especially if the couple is taken to trial beyond what they’ve already endured.
So the lesson? Don’t bring a woman to Dubai unless she’s your wife - or just spend your holiday bucks somewhere with a bit more respect for western women.
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I traveled extensively in the Middle East, including Dubai, with my then boyfriend (now husband) and we anticipated some "issues" due to the cultural differences. But by using a bit of restraint and common sense, we were quickly able to avoid problems and have an awesome experience. All it took was a minimal knowledge of local law and custom and a modicum of respect for those customs and laws... the couple described in the Guardian article reportedly behaved in a way that was so blatantly irresponsible and disrespectful that they would have been likely to encounter problems in ANY country. And the fact that they carried on this way in an Islamic country shows a total lack of respect and a total absence of civility.
It is, in fact, illegal in many Islamic countries including Dubai, for an unmarried couple to live together or be alone in a private room, including a hotel room or even a car. However, if a foreign couple presents themselves as husband and wife it is respectfully accepted, and they will have no trouble staying hotels, traveling or socializing together. I met many unmarried western couples who lived happily together in Dubai and had done so for years without ever having an incident.
Keep in mind that kissing and holding hands in public are violations of the Sharia law too, so you probably want to avoid kissing fervently or engaging in random acts of petting, touching, and groping with your significant other in Dubai's public places.
Finally, though foreigners are allowed to drink at Dubai's restaurants and bars...getting hammered, sloshed, $hit-faced, f@cked-up or inebriated... then ending up passed-out on the floor of a public restroom? Not good. In any country.
What I'm trying to say is that there's absolutely no need to "leave your girlfriend at home" if you're going to Dubai as long as you behave with basic civility and respect for their customs and laws. We expect that from visitors to our country too.
Dubai is an exciting and interesting country. I'm hoping to get back to there in 2010, and now that I play golf I'm sure I'll have more fun then ever. Even though I'm married. ;o)
I have no doubt that a strong majority of visitors to Dubai enjoy their time there, especially if they do their prior homework.
But I think we're talking about two different things here. Obviously, if the couple was as drunk as reported, then they probably shouldn't have gone to Dubai for holiday in the first place - more like Prague or Marbella.
I'd have no problem had they been arrested for public intox onsite, and I also think the couple that got three months jail time for sex on a Dubai beach recently should have known better.
This incident is different however, because rape is still too taboo in too many parts of the world and many women are still too afraid to immediately come forward when it happens, especially in Africa or the Middle East. The action of the police just pushes back the social movement to encourage victims to come forward as soon as possible, and is also just a slap in the face to western culture.
(For the irony-impaired, I'm actually arguing the opposite of the above. And for GolfGirl, "presenting" themselves and husband and wife wouldn't have kept her from being attacked, nor would making a false statement to the police have kept them out of jail.)
What I said was that the reported behavior (getting drunk and passing out in a public restroom) subjected the woman to the same kind of risk in Dubai as it would in the US ...or just about any place else. The following day when, according to the reports, she at some point remembered that she had been raped, she reported it to the police and faced the kind of skepticism and scrutiny a woman would face in most countries with such a story. The difference being that in a country with Islamic law like Dubai, the woman and her partner had actually broken the law, and were treated accordingly. The accused rapist denied that there had been a rape at all, claiming the sex had been consensual. Thus the case is going to court as such a case would here. What I'm saying is that what happened in this case in Dubai, is actually not very different from what probably would have happened in most western countries... with the exception of the arrest for illegal extramarital sex. Lets face it, Women are reluctant to report rape in all countries, for a number of reasons, and programs should be in place to empower them to do so. There were, in fact, feminists in Dubai who complained about this case saying it would discourage local women from reporting rape, but the point is, I don't think the "Leave your girlfriend at home" of this post's title is any kind of solution.
Anyway, as I say, I've been there, felt totally comfortable and un-threatened, will gladly go back. And I'll step off the soap box now.
B) Another reason to reconsider traveling to places with Draconian laws (including some states in the U.S.):
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