Here's another guest post. This one is from Sarah and she's certainly done her research on the "quirky" kissing laws in Dubai.
Sometimes laws just don’t make sense. That or we just don’t understand them. For example, did you know that you it’s illegal to harvest cotton with an elephant in North Carolina? The ones that are the most difficult for anyone to understand are the ones that restrict behavior that feels natural for us.
Take, for example, Ayman Najafi, 24, and Charlotte Adams, 25. In November, they were convicted of violating decency laws in Dubai. For kissing, they say, on the cheek, a common greeting in Great Britain which is where they are from. They have been sentenced to a month in prison, deportation after the sentence is carried out, and fined 1,000 dirhams (about $400.) A local woman laid accusations against them after her children told her about the kissing (she didn’t see them herself.) Her kids said they kissed on the mouth, which is against the decency laws.
Najafi and Adams lost their first appeal. They contend that since they kissed on the cheek, they didn’t break any laws. The judge spoke entirely in Arabic while he dismissed their appeal and upheld their sentence. Their defense attorney had to explain to them what happened. They have 30 days to file another appeal. The troublesome part is that the evidence is already contradictory, and the court has not called on any of the defense witnesses who contend that it didn’t happen.
Najafi, while Muslim, grew up in the UK and is used to western style greetings. His mother, Maida, thinks the court might be being particularly harsh knowing that Najafi is a Muslim and “should know better.”
Dubai, while a tourist attraction, has a conservative Muslim culture. For example, alcohol is highly restricted. There are only a few places you can find it, and that’s mainly for the tourists. Technically, it’s illegal. All foreign affairs offices give warnings to anyone traveling to Dubai. It’s a part of the United Arab Emirates. You absolutely must be aware of local customs, as they may very well be legally mandated. Alcohol consumption, kissing on the mouth, bad language, rude gestures… All are illegal offenses. Decency laws exist. Whether you agree with them or not, it’s up to you to make sure you’re not ignorant before you travel. If you don’t – you just might find yourself in jail for kissing your wife!