Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Blatant hypocrisy

I'm still on about the way the law is administered, and the effect it's having on tourism.

First, a quick word on tourism.

The latest stories getting huge international publicity, which I've been on about for the past few days, are the Simon Andrews road rage and the British kissing couple cases.

In itself this publicity is obviously bad for tourism. But there's a growing ripple effect too, if the origin of visitors to this blog is any indication.

Go back to April last year, when I responded to Johann Hari's "Dark Side of Dubai" story.

A number of international news sites gave a link to my post and at the time I had hundreds of hits from their readers. Then it dropped off and I got one now and again.

Many people reading the current stories have obviously gone searching for negative stuff about Dubai because I'm suddenly getting many more visits again from those earlier links.

So all the old stories are being read again and the negativity spreads. Not good for the tourism that's such a large percentage of the economy.

Then a great example of the double standards that cause so much derision for Dubai, and confusion about what's allowed and what's illegal, at the same time as the jail-for-kissing case.

There are two major problems to the administration of the legal system, as I see it.

One I've been ranting about for a few days, that people can be found guilty on no more than another person's say-so.

The other is the absolute random, arbitrary way the law is enforced. All the decency laws are broken all over the city all the time with no charges .

Unmarried couples openly co-habit, there's sex outside marriage, revealing clothing is normal city wear, prostitution is blatant. It's not even a case of people keeping their heads down and not drawing attention to themselves.

Yet once in a blue moon someone is suddenly given jail time and deported for what thousands of others are doing unhindered.

The Daily Mail has an example, with a raft of photos of a pregnant unmarried model, Danielle Lloyd, and her fiance who are in Dubai on holiday, kissing in public view.

The headline is:

"Danielle Lloyd shows off six-month bump as she embraces Jamie O'Hara on Dubai beach"

So they're breaking the sex before marriage law, the unmarried couples living together law, the public decency law.

A couple of the comments left are asking 'how come they were not arrested?" A perfectly reasonable question.

No wonder there's confusion. No wonder Dubai's reputation is suffering.

People are being given at the same time two totally different versions of what is and is not acceptable behaviour in Dubai.

The Daily Mail story is here.


Doug said...

On the other hand...do you really think the UAE authorities are that worried about whether or not they remain a British tourist destination?

The sad fact is (and I say this as a Brit myself), the national stereotype of your Brit abroad is the drunken shaggers with their arses hanging out stumbling in the street. Meanwhile, the national stereotype of your average Rigski abroad is brightly coloured tracksuit spending a lot of money on overpriced designer labels.

Face it, the UAE won't want Brit tourist cash - they'll make far more pandering to the Russians and then cleverly pitching themselves to the Saudis as a 'halal' destination where you can score a hooker and booze. They know these people will spend cash and not make a fuss, and also keep a relatively low profile in town.

It wouldn't surprise me if the UAE authorities were going hell for leather to scare us Brits aways as they've got enough issues pandering to a cantankerous and fickle native population.

They know they can't turn the UAE into a 'Brit-friendly' tourist destination because the UAE simply cannot supply what Brits want from a holiday - and I'm not talking about booze or sex either.

No-one wants to spend 8 hours on a plane to sit on a beach when you can get an Easyjet flight for a tenner and 2 hours to Spain. No-one from the UK wants to shop in Dubai because the ridiculous way the monopoly importer system works means that prices remain higher than in the UK, defeating the point. Aside from beaches and shopping, the UAE doesn't really have a lot going for it from a Brit perspective and frankly the leadership is smart enough to realise it's more productive to attract others than fix the 'problem'.

Seabee said...

Doug, nice conspiracy theory - I suppose it could be a roundabout way of frightening Brits into staying away.

It's a big financial loss though - over a million Brits a year, and Dubai is in their top ten destinations.

RM said...

I don't really see how it will or has impacted Dubai. So the Brits stay away - there are millions or billions of Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, Russians, etc from the East (or North) who are more than happy to come and I have noted their increase over the last several years. Go to the Dubai Mall - you are surrounded by Slavic origin languages. Sure the economy has affected Dubai in a variety of ways, but will a kissing / jail story keep Brits away?

Hope so, them and the Americans too.

Yankee Doodle

Anonymous said...

Yes. It could be a tactical maneuver from Dubai's point of view. They owe British Institutions plenty of money which they have not as yet paid back, so the next best thing to do is target their citizens in any way possible. If they want their money back, they are gonna have to fight for it with insult added for good measure! Kind of like a reverse psychology syndrome.

Plus the fact Russian 'finance' is back on the scene and also India might also be a a new partner in crime as Sheikh Maktoum did visit a few weeks ago which no doubt was an arm twisting or begging bowl scenario.

So out with the old (British) and in with the new (Russia, India). Prostitution at it's best.

Anonymous said...

Why would a Japanese or a Chinese or korean be dying to come to Dubai?

What does Dubai offer that other cheaper countries dont?

The ones who seem to be the most impressed by Dubai are the ones who live in poor countries with crumbling infrastructure.
Many people from the CIS countries think Dubai is great, but thats because they dont know any better.

At the end of the day Dubai will appeal most to Saudis, Iranians, upper-middle class subcontinentals, and other 3rd world countries nearby (Horn of Africa, CIS counries)

Anonymous said...

Dubai itself is a bankrupt sh@@hole in comparative terms. Similar to Iceland.

If the British did not have controlling fingers with in the UAE and special concessionary rights because I am sure this was part of the package before Britain pulled out many years ago and gave them their independence. The UK would have wiped the floor clean with them by now. The UK can if they wanted to, deal Dubai a very harsh blow anytime they want, but in reality they are all in bed together and I don't think Dubai has as yet irritated it's master enough for a reprimand.

There is nothing on earth that Dubai can do to affect the UK in real terms. This notion about Dubai being some sort of Middle Eastern 'superpower' which can afford to disrespect the UK is a fallacy.

The UK for better or worse is far too strong for Dubai to dent it's reputation, pockets, military, infrastructure, people, way of life or anything else for that matter. The UK on the other hand can really mess up Dubai in every way, but will not do so at the moment because of their 'special' relationship with Abu Dhabi, Saudi and USA which are the real controlling powers in the region. Just a little pressure from the UK institutions asking for their money back was enough to bring Dubai to it's knees. Imagine what would have happened if the UK went all out?

Dubai needs to realise it's position and get to the back of the class, where it belongs!

Doug said...

I'm not really sure there's a great deal the UK could do to disrupt the UAE. When Mandelson asked for UK firms to get paid, what happened? Nothing. It's because there's no way of enforcing any kind of penalty the UK might wish to inflict on the UAE.

As 'Anonymous' rightly points out, the UAE is very good at impressing the sort of people who genuinely think a shopping mall or a very tall building is something astonishing and amazing. And fair play to them, that's exactly the sort of people who all live within a 2 hour flight of the place.

I just don't think the British are really that important in the grand UAE scheme overall. They're just the most visible 'Western' nationality in the UAE and can be the whipping boys for that vague generalised antipathy that exists throughout the Muslim world towards the West (come on, we all know the moment we start talking about these things, an Arab national will almost always make some sort of detour that ends up bleating about Iraq and Israel and Palestine, instead of the issue under discussion). And they can whip without any real consequences.

Doug Freeman said...

No wonder there's confusion. No wonder Dubai's reputation is suffering.


All credit to the ruling family that is allowing this to happen unhindered while they remain preoccupied seeking means to rejuvenate their depleted coffers.

Meanwhile, Zayed & Rashid would be turning in their graves seeing what their children have made of what was the UAE.

I think this country desperately needs an intense counseling session to get back on track. Whether it makes it back on track, now that's a million-$ question of this year.

Anonymous said...

I am the 3:26pm Anon.

I agree; I am a Muslim but its very frustating when even torturing cats is somehow justifiable because of "Guantanamo, Palestine, Iraq"...

In other words, just because the US has wronged some Arabs there, every other crime must be allowed.....

Me: So an innocent Brit was killed by a reckless driver

Some Muslim/Arab: So what, do you know how many thousands were killed in Iraq by these same Brits?

Me: What does that have to do with the Brit killed by the reckless driver?

Him (head in smoke): What do you mean? If USA can get away with Guantanamo, a reckless driver can not be blamed....

Anonymous said...

ah dubai!! when will u learn?