The ruling in the ‘sex on the beach’ story that has gripped the expat world in Dubai has finally been given, and the accused have now been sentenced to jail by Dubai’s Court of First Instance after being strongly assured by their lawyers that they would be found not guilty and walk free.
This story has been picked up by the world’s media because of the scandalous undertones – after all, sex sells. But for the expatriates already living in Dubai it is just the latest example of the draconian legal system in place in the UAE that restricts personal liberty and makes living in playgrounds like Dubai less appealing upon closer inspection.
The story has resulted in greater numbers of potential expats to the emirate thinking twice about their choice of destination. It seems that concerns about lack of freedom and justice in Dubai are putting would-be expats off making the move. And when you think about it – is a tax-free salary worth the sacrifices that have to come with it?
The constructors and hoteliers in Dubai together with their clever marketing people have thrown millions of pounds into promoting the emirate as a first world, modern, cosmopolitan and open environment. The government in Dubai has put great effort into ensuring the business environment is attractive so that they attract the majority of new companies establishing operations in the region. But the legal system in Dubai has remained unchanged for many hundreds of years – and it is unforgiving, sexist, prejudice on many levels and outmoded. The legal system does not support modern day Dubai’s values and this is where a massive culture clash exists, and it is a culture clash like no other.
Where else in the world have you got a society moving in one direction – i.e., towards the adoption of a freer more open attitude to life for men and women of all nationalities and all religions – whilst being restricted and hampered at every turn by laws that are archaic, antediluvian and downright primitive in some cases. The ‘sex on the beach’ story has just served to highlight some of the very real aspects of living in Dubai that expats only usually become aware of once they have committed to relocating to the emirate.
Yes, in Dubai you can almost have it all – you can have the tax-free salary, the incredibly high-flying career, the stunning property and a decent social life – but you can only have it if you abide by what are, to all intents and purposes, primitive rules. Therefore anyone – especially women – thinking about going to live the high life in Dubai needs to look far more closely at the realities of life in the emirate before they commit to making the move. Whilst the vast majority of us can refrain from engaging in ‘indecent acts’ in public, it’s the every day restrictions on our lives that can make life in Dubai less than idyllic. At Degtev we still see the very real advantage of living, working, shopping and holidaying in Dubai, but we also strongly recommend that each individual look more closely at the real aspects of day to day life and how they can restrict personal freedom before they commit to a relocation.
And finally, before we are inundated with a deluge of complaints suggesting we misunderstand the Arab culture, the Dubai way of life and the United Arab Emirates’ moral values – we are simply pointing out the massive discrepancy that has been created in Dubai by the local population in Dubai and the UAE. This is the discrepancy between painting a picture of Dubai as a free, Western, civilised, open and cosmopolitan society where anything goes and the actual laws that govern that society.