Thursday, 28 January 2010

Stop, stop, stop all the dancing

A couple of days ago, a letter to the Editor was published in 7 Days, a free English language paper distributed in Dubai.  The letter was from a mother who was spoken to by the police at Global Village for having danced in public with her young son.  For readers outside Dubai, 'Global Village' is like a State Fair/Easter Show/Expo where different countries have pavilions selling their products and displaying their culture, which includes live dance shows by cultural groups.  These shows are well worth seeing and the music and dance at the Egyptian and Yemeni pavilions are great.   Anyway, it seems the mother made the mistake of having a dance with her young son while watching one of the dance shows.  The crime of dancing with her little boy, and remember that all the while there were dancers performing on stage only metres away, resulted in her being publicly and, by her account aggressively, reprimanded by the police. 
Another letter in '7 Days' followed a few days later telling of a 15 year old who was apprehended by the police at Global Village after being spotted dancing in the crowd during an Indian cultural dance performance.  After being taken by the officers to the head office she was lectured and finally let off with a warning. 
One needs only to refer to Clause 1.5 of the Dubai Code of Conduct: "Dancing and music: Loud music and dancing are forbidden in public places like parks, beaches or residential areas and must be restricted to licensed venues only."  So be warned, when out in public please refrain from any action that could be construed in any way, shape or form, as moving in a dance like manner.  Some head nodding is ok, maybe a bit of subdued handclapping but other than that keep it behind locked doors.

Here's the letter from '7 Days':
Sunday 24 Jan, 2010
A word of warning. I visited Global Village on Thursday evening with my elderly mother, another female friend and our three young children, all under the age of seven.
Having braved the crowds, paid exorbitant prices for our children to ride on the fairground rides (costs range from dhs10 to dhs25 each per ride!), and visited the many country pavilions, we stopped to watch a display of African music and dance outside the Africa pavilion.
It was a fabulous sight, with beautiful music. The children loved it and were dancing, and I danced briefly with my seven-year-old son.
A few minutes later, three - count them - three plain clothes police officers physically surrounded our party and aggressively informed us that dancing was not allowed anywhere.
They were extremely intimidating and forceful, and the children were openly frightened of both them and the situation we were forced into. I felt like a criminal.
We were horrified and our evening was ruined. We left immediately.
There are no signs or information leaflets at GV telling tourists and visitors that dancing is not permitted. I was not dancing suggestively or dressed provocatively, I was having fun with my children. I have lived in the UAE for many years and am well aware of the need to respect local culture and religion.
Perhaps the solution is for Global Village organisers to publicise the rules for visitors outside before they enter the park to avoid any misunderstandings in future.

[Signed] A Resident

1 comment:

  1. When I first read this letter in 7 Days, I thought maybe there was something more to it. But alas it appears that it is what it is, another completely ridiculous UAE law and situation that makes Dubai wonder why people throw negative publicity there way...