Posted by: Noni | February 2, 2010

Unpublished Comment in Gulf News re:

Dubai’s unwritten social contract

Having spent 2 winters working and fighting for a spot amongst the other expats in Dubai I felt compelled to respond to the article linked above. Unfortunately the Gulf News for whatever reason, decided not to allow the posting of my comment. Here it is… tell me if you think it warrants being banned from publication.

Bravo, most honest thing I have read since my contact and visits to Dubai.
I keep wondering why the government invites internationals to visit and work in the UAE, only to contradict the invitation in so many ways. I was never given a set of rules upon entering the country… I was never told that the alcohol I consumed in hotel bars or private homes/venues was against the law. I studied and read about Dubai before arriving and in none of the sites I visited did it mention that a couple who were not married was breaking the law if they shared an apartment or a hotel room. I read His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s website extensively and it offered no hint as to restrictions other than to dress respectfully in public places. Also I checked and found no posting of rules or regulations. It was important to me to honor the wishes of the country I was visiting. I consider myself a guest and as a Canadian want to represent my country positively.
Recently I read an article about Paris Hilton and her visit to Dubai. What is Paris Hilton most known for??? A pornographic internet video! Why was she honored with such celebrity status and special treatment? Double standard!!! I have visited Dubai on several occasions and have found the hypocrisy to be incredibly frustrating. I’m a responsible, law abiding and tolerant global citizen who makes every effort to assimilate into the culture of a country when I visit. There is overwhelming misinformation and contradictory messages coming from the Dubai government… Do they want the city to be a flourishing modern cosmopolitan center or not?
My blackberry is restricted in the UAE. I subscribe to an international data plan service from AT&T in California. My service works all over the world, but not in Dubai…why? How is accessing websites on my personal handheld device interfering with the rights or privacy of the residents of the UAE? If I subscribe to Etisilat then I am bound by the service agreement that they provide and will comply willingly, but I don’t, I am an AT&T customer. Again, there was no advance indication that my communication device would be restricted before I entered the country. Brings me back to the points you made… Why sell alcohol in a country where consumption is against the law? Why rent hotel rooms to couples who are not married?
If Dubai wants to continue to attract tourists and international business under the guise of being a modern “cosmopolitan” city then they need to start acting like one:
1. Make it clear what is expected of visitors in advance of their arrival.
2. Drop the double standards and hypocrisy (ie. Prostitution etc)
3. Create laws that are clear and fair for both residents and visitors
4. Start being honest! The rest of the world knows that Dubai has infrastructure and financial problems, don’t treat us like we are stupid. Why keep acting like everything is peachy keen?
If Dubai expects people to do business with them, they need to present themselves openly and honestly. Restricted information (website blocking, controlling media, denying freedom of speech, etc) only breeds mistrust. Admit you have problems and move forward. None of us are perfect. We learn from our mistakes, but only after we take responsibility for them.
I would love to continue doing business in Dubai. I had hopes and dreams of becoming an integral part of the fledging film industry in the region. I worked hard to help create organization and support for those efforts. I participated and contributed my finances, resources and expertise but got nothing in return but frustration and empty promises. When you invite a guest to dinner and they show up offering a nice desert, do you send them home hungry?
If Dubai doesn’t want international business leaders to participate in their growth and development they should stop advertising for them to come.


  1. Its WonderFul Post, Excellent work, keep it up


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