Displaying an impressive disrepect for local culture, a British woman stripped down to her bikini and walked through the Dubai Mall after a local Emirati woman confronted her about the low-cut shirt she was wearing that, in her mind, violated the local conservative dress code.
Mall security brought both women to a police station where they were detained briefly, then released.
There have now been a string of incidents in Dubai. In March, a British couple spent a month in jail for kissing in public. An Indian couple got three months in jail for exchanging sexy text messages. In 2008, a British couple went to jail for three months for having sex on the beach.
Titanic Editorial: Dubai needs to make a decision. If they want to position themselves as a major tourist destination (especially for charter trips) and business hub for Westerners and the rest of the world, they’re going to need to make some adjustments. I’m not saying they should change their values or culture or dress differently. They just need to find a better way of informing visitors about their unique rules and a better way of punishing foreigners who violate them. If a foreigner commits one of these social crimes (inappropriate dress, inappropriate speech or touching), a fine of perhaps $100 – $500 seems like a more realistic punishment. Months or days in jail is WAY overboard. And Dubai tourism will continue to pay for it with bad PR as long as they keep it up. They need to understand that it’s not easy for many Westerners to make the adjustment. A couple on a honeymoon might forget and spontaneously kiss while walking down the beach. It’s especially difficult because hotels and bars seem to have a different set of rules. If you step into a Western hotel, you can wear a bikini, drink, and kiss without penalty. Dubai is a fascinating city in many ways (I’ve had the pleasure of visiting it 4 times), but tourists need to be able to relax and walk down the street (or thru a mall) without fear that they’ll be chucked in jail for a crime they didn’t even realize was a crime.
Name Tim Moore
Who? In 1998 Tim accidentally embarked on the therapeutic Arctic voyage that was to spawn Frost on My Moustache, a critically-acclaimed comic travelogue that regrettably took its name from the punchline to an offensive joke. This was followed by Continental Drifter, a retracing of the foolhardy round-trip to Venice made by Britain’s first Grand Tourist; French Revolutions, the best-selling and prize-winning account of his farcical yet strangely inspiring attempt to cycle all 3,630km of the 2000 Tour de France; and Do Not Pass Go, a history of his native London seen through the 22 streets on the Monopoly board. Spanish Steps patiently detailed how not to tackle the Camino de Santiago by donkey, and Nul Points was an account of Tim’s ill-advised attempt to meet those performers who have failed to trouble the scorers at the Eurovision Song Contest. Tim’s most recent book, I Believe in Yesterday, relates his globetrotting, time-traveling adventures in historical reenactment. This would at least partially explain his photo.
Countries Visited I gave up keeping tabs when Europe fragmented into 12 billion sovereign territories. Anyway, a trawl through the Wikipedia list suggests I’m currently on 62.
1. Worst Aspect of Being an Unfit Englishman Cycling Long Distances in France The number of signs that yell ‘PAIN’ down every high street.
2. Worst Thing About Traveling through Spain with a Donkey The stupid and useless holiday vocabulary you pick up – ‘My animal requires barley’ hasn’t established itself as the phrasebook gift that keeps on giving. Though I still hope to get some use out of ‘I will clear up his night-mess in the morning.’
3. Worst Words to Hear when You’re in a Camp full of Kindly, Earnest Widows at a Civil War Reenactment ‘Sir, would you do us the honor of reading a little William Shakespeare?’
4. Worst Long-Term Car Park The cheapest one in Mestre, on the mainland outside Venice. It’s run by children: the sort of children who will put 47 miles on the clock during your absence, then summon large dogs when you point this out.
5. Worst Place in the Entire World Dubai is a gigantic expo of wrongness: everything that’s bad about modern life brought together in one place. The only way to cross the street that goes right through the central business district is to take a taxi. I spent five days feeling like Charlton Heston at the end of Planet of the Apes. ‘We finally really did it! God damn you! God damn you all to hell!’
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