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Chapter 24: What NOT to Do

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Chapter 24: What Not to Do?

September 24, 2022


Here, from the Khaleej Times, is a list of ten things not to do in Dubai:


1. Call someone silly or stupid. The maximum penalty for this is a year in jail and a Dh10,000 fine. ($2,722)
2. Install an illegal satellite TV dish. It was one month in prison and a fine of Dh5,000 ($1,361) for selling satellite TV receivers that decode channels.
3. Possess khas khas seeds (popular in India and Pakistan but ruled a narcotic and psychotropic substance here) 20 years in jail.


4. Employ illegal domestic help. A fine no less than Dh50,000 and up to Dh5 million besides a jail term. ($13,613-$1,361,000)
5. Feed stray cats. Dh500 fine. ($136)
6. Film an accident scene. Six months in jail or/and a fine between Dh150,000 and Dh500,000 for take pictures of accident victims. ($40,838-$136,128) Dh1,000 ($272) is the penalty for crowding an accident scene.
7. Fundraise. (Only licensed charities, federal and local authorities can collect, receive and make donations) A fine no less than Dh200,000 and a maximum of Dh500,000 ($54,451-$136,128)
8. Wash a car in public. A fine of Dh500. ($136)
9. Seek unlicensed massage service. One-year in jail or fine or both.
10. Check someone else's phone or access any information system with a password acquired without permission. Jail and/or a fine of Dh50,000 to Dh100,000 ($13,613-$27,226) for accessing any information system with a password acquired without permission. If it is ruled that you have criminal intent, that increases to six months in jail and/or a fine between Dh300,000 and Dh500,000. ($81,677-$136,128)

That, dear readers, is but a partial list or quirky offenses. Do something more serious and you will instantly regret it. The list seems silly - no pun intended - and we don't really know to what degree if any these type of offenses are truly watched. As far as calling someone silly or stupid - well, that could leave little kids in a tough spot, they typically say things like that. But make no mistake, there is law and order here and it seems a good thing. There is virtually no crime and everyone seems to live in harmony. I'm sure there is much we don't see but what we do see and learn from talking with friends who have been here a long time, it is a good thing.

My impression--and it is ONLY my impression--is that expats strictly adhere to rules and regulations here because to break them means rapid expulsion without recourse. And, it seems to me that expats here both accept it and like it that way. Keep in mind that the expats make up about 85% of the population. They are here because they have the opportunity to build a better life and send money back home, they are here because they are running businesses here, they are here because they choose to 'home base' here to run multi-national businesses, and a multitude of other reasons. They don't want to leave, life here is good. Ex-pats don't really have any 'rights', they are visa guests in this country. On either a work visa or a 10 year golden visa. But no one bothers you either as long as you obey the rules.The reward is that they feel safe. What they give up, they give up happily because it seems to them that because others have to give up that same thing, life is not only safe but it is fair. If you play by the rules--even those rules you don't like and with which you disagree--you'll be fine. The idea that "It's a free country" so I can break this rule or that rule seems to them disruptive and undesirable. Again, that is my impression only. I would warn scofflaws not to come to Dubai or the UAE. I also speculate that a double standard exists. I also get the impression that Emiratis and expats are not treated the same and everybody understands and accepts that. Be advised, however, that I have had absolutely no exposure to even one Emirati other than to see him or her across the room in a restaurant or across the promenade in the mall.


I am reminded of 19-year-old Michael Fay in 1994 Singapore. Some readers will remember him as the young American boy who was found guilty of a ten day spree of stealing road signs and vandalizing a car. He was sentenced to six strokes from a cane. The story garnered global attention and divided opinion prevailed. I suspect that the population of Dubai would react to such a situation here, today, saying that expulsion without appeal is a proper punishment. The prison population here is 104 per 100,000 with 88% of those being foreigners. In the United States, the prison population is 629 per 100,000. So, from my poorly informed perspective, it would appear that the UAE would say to a foreigner who committed a misdemeanor or lesser felony, "Rather than incur the expense of imprisoning you, we are simply going to expel you so you are somebody else's problem." Finis!


Let me give you a prediction. When the FIFA World Cup comes to Qatar in November, it will draw football ("soccer") fans from around the world. Such fans are known to be rowdy in their support for their clubs. Some tend to drink to excess. Some are obnoxious in public. Since hotel rooms in Qatar are few, fans will be commuting from Abu Dhabi and Dubai. There will be an incident and it will be controversial. It will hit the media like a modern day Michael Fay. It will embarrass the Arabs and it will embarrass the fans which I further predict will be Brits and/or Germans. Boy, do I hope I am wrong about what even has a name: football hooliganism.

What CAN you do here?

Go shooting at one of 5 clay shooting ranges. Go shark diving at the aquarium. Horseback ride around the Al Qudra lake looking for desert animals. Ride a hot air balloon or a helicopter or a gyrocopter—a low altitude two-seat aircraft. Go wake boarding, jet skiing, sand boarding, or flyboarding. Or take the X Dubai human catapult Slingshot, a 400 foot ride over the water and sand or the X Line which is a 50 mile per hour zipline starting at 550 feet above ground level ending up 2/3 mile away. Or, just take a walk. (In September, dress properly. It is over 100o every day, the sun is unforgiving and the haze eventually irritates your throat.

There are parks, an indoor ski slope, theme parks, race tracks for cars, camels and horses, water parks, adventure parks, floral exhibitions, butterfly gardens, an indoor tropical rainforest, and, or course, a swim-with-the-dolphins and sea lion park.

Go to the Desert Platinum Heritage Tours to the Desert offers safari vehicles but buyer beware. They promised more than they delivered with us. Falconry, which we did not really experience, is the one thing I wanted to see but didn't.

The Dubai Fountain Show at night from the bouncy floating platform is an option. For photographers, I am told the Shangri La Hotel SUNRISE SHOOT delivers great pictures. But, I would suspect, not at this time of the year due to the omni-present haze.


Oh; and shopping. There is more than a little of that. Dubai is a shopping Mecca. If you can't find it here, it likely doesn't exist. The malls are beautiful, the US could learn a thing or two. You could get confused as to where you are as a good half of the stores in the malls are US names; am I in Dubai or am I in the Dallas NorthPark Mall? That said, the prototypes are different and so is the overall environment. Climate controlled malls make a lot of sense in a country where it can get blazing hot in the summer. There’s Citywalk Mall, Dubai Mall, Mall of the Emirates, Marina Mall, Ibn Battuta Mall, Wafi Mall, Burjuman Centre, City Centre Deira, Times Square Centre, Al Bhurari Centre. Souks (marketplace) include The Springs Souk, Souk Madinat and The Old Souks.

But there are no liquor stores. You can consume liquor by the drink or wine by the bottle at hotels or clubs—or in your home—but you are not able to buy from local stores because there is no such thing as a typical U.S. style liquor license. You may apply for a tourist alcohol license which is good for 30 days. But one source I read indicated that applications are usually approved within 48 hours but then only issued “within four weeks.” My advice: stick to hotels and clubs and do not drive or even walk home while intoxicated. Public intoxication is a serious offense and even when carrying alcohol from the car to your hotel room requires that you conceal it. The beer in supermarkets is alcohol-free. If you want a bottle of vodka while you’re here, pick it up at the Duty Free shop at the airport and bring it with you to your hotel. Or, better still, take advantage of cocktail hour at the hotel and leave it at that.

Shopping at the airport upon your departure is amazing. Give yourself time; arrive early not for immigration and security but to experience what they have created: a mall-port. Precisely what I am planning on doing. I am on the hunt for a great pair of glasses or whatever else I see that I can't live without. Our suitcases are quite full. How is it that all of your things fit in the suitcase when you leave home but coming back, even if you have purchased little, its a struggle to make it all fit. Someone has been grumbling at me all morning as we pack for just such a problem. I'm not sure how it is that Paul can't see the difference between all of my black dresses. To me each is vastly different, to him they are all identical. I am chastised and told there is such a thing as laundry which means I could travel with one pair of workout pants instead of 4. I must admit, there is some logic to that. Oh well, next time. But I digress, a bad habit that I have. Let me add here that if anything ever happens to our girl you should dump your Eileen Fisher stock.

As you do all of that, the final watchword must be: Obey the rules--even those you find silly or ridiculous or cumbersome. The cry of "It's a free country," might be met with a local gaze implying that you are lacking in worldly wisdom (naïve) in a foreign country and would be better off going back home where you are somebody else's problem. Oh, and true both here and around the entire world is the adage that "Ignorance of the law is no excuse."

"Good riddance," they will say.

In 1966 (the year I graduated from high school) at the "sock hop" we all danced to the Marvelettes hit: "Don't Mess With Bill." It went like this:


Don't mess with Bill
Now I know he's the guy who put tears in my eyes
A thousand times or more
Oh, but ev'rytime he would apologize
I loved him more than before

Here, I think it's "Don't Mess With the Sheikh." We love him even if he may put tears in our eyes.

There are Americans who chant: "America. Love it or Leave it." In the face of that, the population is divided as to what it means to "Love America." Some believe in American Exceptionalism, that America can do no wrong. There are those who believe that America has done much wrong: slavery leading that list. There are those that are quite satisfied with what and where America is today. There are others who are trying to decide where in the world they might relocate should a fascist government come to power or if evangelical extremists succeed in making Christianity the official national religion or if parental rights activists succeed in banning and burning books or if...
That doesn't exist here. They demand, not request, tolerance. Perhaps paradoxically, there is an official governmental Ministry of Tolerance whose website clearly states: "UAE is an incubator of the values of tolerance, peace, security and multiculturalism, with more than 200 nationalities enjoying decent life and respect. Accordingly, the laws of UAE guaranteed justice; respect and equality, besides it incriminated hatred, fanaticism, and causes of division and difference."

The intolerant are not tolerated.

We are curious. What do you think of all this? Your comments are both welcome and encouraged.

Posted by paulej4 13:33 Archived in United Arab Emirates

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Love this post, but I have a travel secret for B2/B4 ... save old workout clothes for travel, and then trash them as you go ... leaves room for "emergency" purchases

by Mandy, aka B1

Even as recently as five years ago I would think silly any talk of a Christian national religion or fascist government. Now some form of this feels like a a train coming full steam at us

If we had foreseen where we would be today, we would have been rioting in the streets for the Senate to vote on Merick Garland, and then RBg could have been convinced to retire once Trump won the vote.

by Theresa

Great info!

by surfer_girl

Great post!

by Vince

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