The Quirkiness that is Dubai


If someone tells you 10 years ago that a city in the Middle East can be a hot tourist destination, you would probably shake your head in disbelief. That is not the case, as many cities along the Gulf have been gathering travelers not only from within the Arab countries, but also from Europe and even the United States. Topping that list is Dubai in United Arab Emirates, known as the location of Burj Al Arab, currently the tallest building used exclusively as a hotel.

The city is also known for its seemingly relaxed yet luxurious lifestyle. Although it is less conservative than the rest of the country, take note that Dubai is still Muslim city, and you have to be aware of some practices that you need to avoid or be careful about.

If you are carrying a child who still breastfeeds, it would be delightful to know that there are no formal rules against breast-feeding in public. However, Muslims frown upon the unnecessary exposure of breasts, especially in public, so modesty should be practiced.

If you are going in a restaurant, dine at one of its screened-off tables or compartments normally used by Arab women who do not wish to remove their veils publicly to eat. In that way, you can have your baby breast-fed without other people seeing you.

Meanwhile, hotels and shopping malls have "mother and baby rooms" used exclusively for breastfeeding mothers. However, if your baby insists on feeding out in the open public, put a shawl big enough to cover both your breast and the baby.

Is it possible to attend a rock concert in Dubai? Yes, there are occasional music events in the city; among them is the Dubai Desert Rock Festival where the likes of Velvet Revolver and Korn have performed here. However, do not be surprised to hear Muslim prayers in between sets, or when the host would repeatedly remind you to "avoid removing your T-shirts or engage in any public demonstrations of affection." Also, no "offensive hand gestures" are permitted and crowd-surfers are ejected from the concert immediately.

You also need to be very careful about the drugs you bring to Dubai, including prescriptive and even over-the-counter medicine. The city has one of the strictest anti-drug laws, and they do not mince words when they imprisoned a Swiss national because of poppy seeds that are found in his clothing after he ate a bread roll in London, or when they jailed another tourist after a minimal amount of hashish was found in his shoelace.

Even melatonin, a substance used to cure jetlag, is banned in Dubai. To make sure your vacation-or even a transit-to Dubai would not turn into an accidental brush with the law, contact your local UAE consulate or embassy.

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