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Stumbling on criticism

Stumbling on criticism

The sex-on-the-beach soap is over. But the saga continues for Dubai and its ailing image

October 16, 2008 12:23 by

Interestingly, the catalyst of all the negative press – the sex-on-the-beach incident and the possibility of a lengthy jail term for the accused – is not specific to Dubai. Even in the UK, where both Palmers and Acors come from, anyone caught having sex in public faces up to six months in jail. By public, the law means anywhere people can see you. That includes your back garden. It seems the story merely invited the world press in for a look, and some journalists didn’t like what they saw.

Nevertheless, the publicity isn’t appreciated by most: Gulf News published an opinion piece on October 10, 2008 entitled UAE-bashing by British press is unfair. The article bemoans the heavy criticism the UAE has endured of late, especially regarding the sex on the beach case, the plight of laborers and the demographic imbalance. The author then states: “when such articles of criticism appear, they come across as reminiscent of an ignorant bygone colonial era.”

Criticism of Dubai and the UAE, however, are part of the nation’s process of becoming an international player. With increased visibility comes more publicity, both good and bad. No nation, not even the UAE, is immune.

The attacks have become so frequent and biting that some feel the sentence Palmers and Acors have been given (three months in jail) and the fine they’ve been ordered to pay ($350) has been reduced to curb more negative publicity.

It is unsurprising, however, that critics have lambasted the foreign press for airing the UAE’s foul laundry. The nation has never been keen on publicly addressing issues that are deemed sensitive or damaging to the country’s image.

However, if the UAE is serious about its efforts to become ‘world-class’ and cosmopolitan, it needs to learn to take public beatings.

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  1. ColnelDecker on October 16, 2008 12:38 pm

    Look at this self-congratulatory sentence written in september:

    “But turning it into a wider statement about the UAE’s Arab or Islamic values? Kipp makes no such pretence. We just enjoy writing about it.”

    How does that reconcile with the hard-hitting analysis in graph two of the article above?

    “The case has exposed the cultural and social contradictions in the UAE. On the one hand, conservative Emiratis and gulf Arabs seem isolated from the greater expatriate community, and many expatriates appear oblivious to the local culture and its customs. The UAE press has already exposed the chasm between foreigners and locals; indeed, for those living in the nation, Dubai’s contradictions are a matter of life in the emirate.”

    I suppose you were just enjoying yourself.

  2. Scott on October 19, 2008 10:23 am

    I don’t see much of a contradiction there, although yes, I did enjoy writing that first piece. (I didn’t write the second, but enjoyed reading it.)

    The “wider statement” Kipp was referring to — and has been keen to avoid — was the silly idea that these people got into trouble because they were caught doing the deed in the UAE — a place of supposedly strict Arab-Islamic values — as opposed to anywhere else. As this article points out, anybody doing the same in Britain would likely face the same punishment or worse.

  3. Paul Taylor on October 19, 2008 10:59 am

    Where’s the contradiction? Have sex on a public beach anywhere in the world, get caught and you get done! End of story.

  4. Walid Fawal on October 19, 2008 2:43 pm

    I just want know something, is there any place in the world that legalize sex in the public beaches. I can understand what all this noise about.
    how about if this coupl were Asian or Arab, what would be the british media reaction? they wont bother to comment enven


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