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Behave yourself!

Behave yourself!

The Dubai Executive Council has issued a strict code of conduct, making holding hands and dancing in public illegal. How will Dubai reconcile its reputation for being the region’s party town with the government’s behavioral code?

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March 15, 2009 2:41 by



Social issues aside, however, given the financial crisis and the damage it has already done to the nation’s economy, is this really the best time to tell people they can’t hold hands?

We’ll grant the DEC nudity. We’ll even grant them revealing clothing. But dancing in public? Loud music? Isn’t loud music a feature of Emirati weddings? What about events held outdoors, such as public relations events and concerts, are they allowed to be loud? Does the rule only apply to expatriates who are not involved in commercial ventures, or does it apply to everyone, at any time?

And what about holding hands? Why would Dubai continue to attract honeymooning couples to pay AED2,000 a night to stay in one of the emirate’s luxury hotels if they can’t hold hands?

In fact, why would any couple visit Dubai if they knew that they could be arrested, fined and jailed if they played loud music, held hands or (heaven forbid) danced in public? Shouldn’t the emirate be doing all it can to promote itself as a tourist destination?

And what about being under the influence of alcohol? According to the article in Al Arabiya, those found with even a minimal amount of alcohol in their system in public will be arrested. What does that mean for those who meet friends at a bar? At some point, they need to walk outside in order to get a cab. Is that illegal?

On the one hand Dubai insists it is a cosmopolitan city. It banks its commercial success on attracting tourists and expatriates keen on experiencing the emirate’s luxuries However, many expatriates and Emiratis will explain that these luxurious are at odds with the emirate’s traditions.

In short, a local culture is at risk, yet expatriate communities and their cultural norms cannot be ignored either. Where’s the middle ground?

And finally, the question remains: how can the local government impose a code of conduct on an emirate that has built its reputation on being the region’s party town?

If the DEC’s statement answers those questions, then a couple of Dubai’s riddles would’ve been solved.



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