This all happened due to a small incident which occurred on our second evening there. We were on our way to see Paul Van Dyk at a venue just a few minutes away from the Palm Jumeirah.
Our friend dropped us off across the road from the venue, and while walking across the road, a white car sped toward us, hooting several times. I jumped out the road, and in a moment of shock reacted with a flick of my middle finger to the aggressive driver as he sped past. The driver pulled over and 3 young locals jumped out the car and confronted me on the side of the road. I tried apologising to them, but soon realised they weren’t after an apology. They began demanding money from me, asking for AED 10,000 (+-£1800) to not call the police. At this point, I still didn’t think I’d actually done anything wrong and wasn’t intending on handing over money in a rush, so they called the police who arrived within minutes.
I was asked if I had been drinking and if I had ‘shown the finger.’ I admitted to both, as firstly, I was a tourist and had only had drinks in government licensed venues. Secondly, l didn’t know ‘the finger’ was a punishable offence. However, within minutes I was arrested and taken down to the station for statements, breath and blood tests before being put in a heavily overcrowded prison for the weekend.
I missed the birthday party I’d flown out for, and was only released on the Sunday afternoon. The only way I managed to get out of jail, was by handing my passport in to the police. My court appearance ended up being 6 weeks later, on the 13th November.
Luckily, the friend I had visited for his birthday was able to put me up in his villa for the time and I was actually blessed with six amazing weeks of living on in a private villa on the Palm Jumeirah, with a beach out front and beautiful sunshine. While waiting for my court date, I got to see what has attracted so many people out to Dubai. There is an amazing nightlife and entertainment scene, the DJ’s are awesome, the clubs are some of the best I’ve seen and the scenery and beaches are really beautiful. The people are friendly and I got to meet many of the people in the entertainment scene in a very short time. In fact, I was having such a great time, I started planning a relocation to Dubai. Lucky Life, my events and entertainment company was running strong in London with my team putting on an amazing Halloween party in my absence, and I decided it may be time to venture into a new city.
That was until I attended court. I was expecting to pay a fine at worst, however, much to my surprise, following a very short hearing where I only got to say ‘yes’ or ‘no,’ I was fined AED 1000, sentenced to a month in prison, deported (at my expense) and banned from the UAE for a year.
I was very lucky to have had the 6 weeks of bliss before the jail time, as I returned to the UK with a very balanced view of Dubai. After hearing this story, most people say they wouldn’t bother setting foot in Dubai. However, I honestly do think it’s an amazing place, and they’ve achieved so much in such a short time. To think that 15 years ago it was only a desert, and now, they’re working toward becoming one of the economic powerhouses of the world, and a top tourist destination, one has to give them credit and take into consideration that certain things will take a little time to iron out. After all, it was me that offended a local in his own country. True, my punishment was very severe, and the laws are not at all clear for a tourist visiting the country, however, next time you’re visiting a foreign country, especially one of the emirates, be sure to find out a few of the Do’s and Don’t’s before your plane touches down!
A FEW DO’S AND DON’TS FROM MY EXPERIENCE IN DUBAI:
– Visit Atlantis Water Park
– Rent a villa on the Palm Jumeirah
– Have sundowners at Barasti
– Go for a party at 360 Degrees on a Friday evening
– Go on a desert Safari
– Go shopping in Karama (Cheap deals)
– Drink without a license or in unlicensed venues (e.g. Someone’s home who doesn’t have an alcohol license)
– Offend locals, or anyone for that matter, especially not with hand gestures.
– Fall asleep in your cab after drinking…they will drop you off at the police station.
– Take drugs, be with people taking drugs or talk about drugs
– Have sex out of marriage, or be overly intimate in public.