Saturday, September 27, 2008

Sex On The Beach - Cultural Comfort Zone

Living or even just staying for a short time in a foreign country, can often result in severe cases of 'culture shock'. As a person that has been living out of their 'cultural comfort zone' for a number of years, I am not immune. However, it does not matter whether I agree or disagree with a particular country's policies, laws, sentences or customs. The onus is on me, as the foreigner, to respect and adhere to the country's way of life, regardless of the driving forces - religion, race, tradition or any others.

I have previously written articles on my blog, drawing attention to and sometimes questioning certain laws, punishments and processes in Singapore - ranging in topic, from the MDA (media development authority) strict censorship laws to the extremely harsh sentences for users of 'soft' drugs. This in no way suggests that I am showing disregard for, or in any way disrespecting the position of the Government or their departments' policies. Quite the opposite - if I were to break the law, I would expect to be punished and sentenced accordingly.

This brings me to the heart of this article, and relates to the recent "Sex on the Beach" incident involving a British couple in Dubai.

Quite often, foreigners living or staying in the Gulf Arab trade and tourism hub, find themselves in trouble with the local authorities, because of the lack of respect for the country's strict laws, driven predominately by their religion and culture. There are strict controls on drinking, and homosexuality or kissing in public is completely banned.

Most foreigners that have opted to reside in Dubai, have done so for various reasons, with none more prominent than the tax-free income and weather to die for. As a result the foreign population has grown exponentially over recent times. The expat community now comprises greater than 90% of the country's population.

Dubai however, is and will remain, predominately an Islamic nation. The locals cannot help but feel like a minority in their own country. They also feel like their values are being overlooked.

Dubai is now seen globally, as a cosmopolitan metropolis, and boasts the world's tallest tower. Expats live and work on three-year visas, with very few ever considering planting their roots and taking up citizenship. Many Westerners work in "free zones" that are similar to economic enclaves and live in newly developed suburbs. They very rarely mix with the locals.

Herein lies the clash of cultures - tourists clad in bikinis lie about on the beach, while being watched by women dressed in black robes.

These kind of differences can be seen all over the city. Muslims are banned from drinking, but non-Muslims can buy alcohol from "special" shops, for the price of the appropriate licence. On weekends, the beach bars and open air clubs are packed with party animals drinking heavily.

The British couple arrested for having drunken sex on the beach, first met one another at a "champagne brunch". The event was held at one of Dubai's well-known hotels on a Friday, which is the Muslim holy day.

The male offender originally moved to Dubai to start a business - the court hearing will put a great dampener on his plans. He may even face jail when he fronts to the judge on October 7th.


Although it may seem harsh, the couple should be held liable for their actions, and must face the consequences. Ignorance is not an excuse, although I believe that this will be their plea. I reiterate, if you are living or staying in another country, it is imperative to abide by the laws, and respect the cultures and the people of the location of which you are a visitor or expat. Otherwise - just stay at home in your own 'culture comfort zone'.


Anonymous said...

Interesting blogging!

Jim Bessey said...

Provocative headline, Pete, with thoughtful content. I like the way you write!


Aussie Pete said...

Hi Jim - thanks for the positive feedback :D

Canada said...

Wow, I really need a secretary like Samantha and a surfer girl like Emma! Sex and sand and surf . . . I think I'll go book myself a flight to Maui right now. Anyway, back to the book. Hot little story. Another great one by J.L. Hugh. I read one his other ones first and liked it. This one is good too.