Dubai is calling… pictures of over the top luxurious hotels, private islands shaped like palms, poems, and world continents, indoor skiing, man made surfing beaches – it’s a party paradise right?? WRONG!
A strategy to attract the wealth of the region (and the world) has brought Dubai to the pinnacle of attention in lux media reporting. But all is not fun and games in this man made eden.
According to reports by Times Online, “A mere speck of a drug forgotten in a trouser pocket can bring a four-year jail term. Four years’ imprisonment is a common sentence for drugs possession, and trafficking carries the death penalty. Since January last year possession of even trace amounts of illegal drugs has resulted in four-year jail terms for foreigners in transit through Dubai.” €œThe presence of drugs in the body is counted as possession, the Foreign Office cautions. In other words, travelers can be jailed even if they have no drugs on them: a trace in the blood-stream of a drug consumed before entering the UAE is enough to secure a jail term.” “Painkillers that are available with a doctor’s prescription or are even available over the counter in Europe or the United States can be illegal in Dubai.” Read the full story about just how intolerant the United Arab Emirates are on drug and alcohol issues: TimesOnline
So I decided to take a peek at the US State Department’s travel advisory site for the Counsular Sheet on the United Arab Emerites. WOW…..who knew…..? Individuals are required to have a personal liquor license to enjoy a beer or glass of wine at home. While tourist hotels serve alcohol in restaurants and bars, the consumption of alcohol anywhere else is strictly prohibited. No drunken displays of affection here – unless you want to cool off for, let’s see, FOUR YEARS!!
The State Department also reports: “In addition, the UAE’s tough anti-narcotics program also includes poppy seeds, widely used in other cultures, including the U.S., for culinary purposes, on its list of controlled substances. The importation and possession of poppy seeds in any and all forms is strictly prohibited. Persons found to possess even very small quantities of controlled substances listed by the UAE are subject to prosecution by the authorities and may be given lengthy prison terms of up to 15 years.”
Better swear off the lemon poppy-seed muffins before heading to Dubai - sure as shootin, a few seeds would fall into your cleavage and then…….disaster, arrested for smuggling in poppy seeds!
And don’t even think about arguing about your hotel bill or restaurant tab… you guessed it, confiscation of your passport and detention until the matter is resolved.
So next time you see all those glossy pictures promising a vacationers’ paradise – remember only well behaved, straight and sober tourist allowed! It will be interesting to see how mass tourism changes Dubai over the next 10 years.