Human rights in Dubai: key points to understand their laws
There is a broad debate about freedom in the United Arab Emirates (and therefore, in its most emblematic cities, such as Dubai and Abu Dhabi). Many organizations have taken it upon themselves to profess that in the UAE, and therefore in Dubai, there are violations of the human rights of their population, and this could, perhaps, threaten their growing tourism.
Are these organizations right? Or perhaps they only analyze it from a western point of view? Then we will understand why this is the case of the UAE and what are the restrictions that exist.
Sharia law: the base of the Arabs
The problem of the West is that people believe that everyone should be attached to their cultural vision of freedom. They forget that in the Middle East the Koran has (and has had for centuries) a great religious, cultural, political and even legislative influence.
Therefore, they should know that the Sharia law exists, a set of rules that derive from the main scriptures of the Koran.
Some basic points of Sharia law (that may affect tourists) are:
1. Homosexuality is illegal, and one of the punishments is the death penalty (although in practice it is not common to carry it out). Not only that, kissing in some public places can be a crime that also leads to deportation.
2. There is a dress code, where the clothes must be in the “appropriate” lengths, ie sleeveless tops or short dresses are not allowed. In addition to this, tourists can’t consume alcohol outside of licensed premises.
3. During the month of Ramadan, it’s illegal to drink, smoke or eat publicly between dawn and dusk (except for pregnant women and children), and this law applies to all people without exception. In fact, in 2008, a Russian woman was judged for drinking juice in public during Ramadan.
About religious freedom…
As you should know, Islam is the official religion in the United Arab Emirates, and therefore, in Dubai. They are tolerant of foreigners and allow them to practice their faith in private places or in official worship. There are 13 Christian churches, as well as facilities for Hindus, Sikhs, and Bahá’ís. What the law punishes is proselytizing.
About other freedoms…
There are reports of illegal detentions, disappearances, self-censorship, and so on, all in Dubai and in general, in the UAE. And although some of these complaints are real and affect residents, the government has shown that they are expanding their range of rights and perspective on these issues. They are opening up to modernity.
Perhaps the UAE is a cultural enigma for many Westerners, and perhaps their system of laws is not so “fair” according to their moral precepts, but what is certain is that many are responsible for judging, without even stopping to study why there are prohibitions in the Middle East.
We must not forget that their laws come from writings that are centuries old and that for them are sacred. Their religion, laws, political system and culture are part of the same body -at least for many.