UAE is home to skyscrapers, ultra-modern architecture, advanced technology and sun drenched beaches. But that’s where the similarities with the West hit a dead end. The stark truth is, underlying its super up-scale facade, the UAE is in reality a conservative Muslim State that adheres to laws and rules the majority of the world find unequivocally deplorable. Particularly in the arena of human rights.
If you’re a woman, married or single, considering accepting a teaching position in the UAE (or other Gulf States), you owe it to yourself to seriously consider if you’re prepared for the possible consequences of your decision. There are those who will say, Oh… that ISR, they’re so negative, “nothing’s going to happen to me, I’m an American (Australian, European, Canadian, fill-in-the-blank______”). But the following incidences happened to people just like you and me and should be cause for intense reflection before considering a position in the UAE.
Marte Dalelv, was in Dubai on business in March of this year (2013) when she was raped by a co-worker. She reported the incident to the Dubai police and was immediately taken into custody where she spent four days in jail and later sentenced for the crime of illicit sex outside marriage and alcohol consumption. The attacker, a 33-year-old Sudanese, was charged and later pardoned. In Marte’s case, thousands of people took to signing petitions and threatening to boycott Dubai, actions that could destroy the UAE’s carefully crafted reputation as one of the more open and progressive places in the Middle East. The authorities were shamed into doing the right thing.
Another rape victim was far less fortunate than Marte Delelv. An Australian woman reported to the police that she had been raped while working at a Dubai hotel in 2008. She spent eight months in a jail after being tricked into signing a confession in Arabic. She has since been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
In 2010 a British woman who was celebrating her engagement reported she had been raped in a hotel toilet. The only people who were arrested were her and her fiancé who were charged with drinking and unlawful sex. When she withdrew her statement the charges were dropped. She was interrogated by five male police officers who she says were only interested in quizzing her about her preferred sexual positions.
Again in 2010, this time in Abu Dhabi, the police jailed an 18-year-old Emirate woman who reported being gang-raped by six men, one of them a police officer. The men were not charged but she faced 100 lashes and a minimum of three years in prison for extramarital sex. When she appeared in court, shackled and dressed in inmates clothing, she rescinded her allegations and was released.
Ayman Najafi and Charlotte Adams were arrested in Dubai for kissing in a restaurant. The complaint was lodged by a woman who said she was offended by their behavior. The woman had not actually seen the kiss, but had been told by her two-year-old daughter that the she had seen them kissing. The couple claimed they had merely kissed on the cheek but the judge upheld the conviction.
An Indian couple in their 40s were sentenced to three months in jail in Dubai for sending each other sexually explicit text messages.
These are not isolated cases. There are over 6000 arrests on Dubais beaches ranging from infractions such swimming fully clothed to kissing in public. Just because Marte Dalelv was released means nothing in the broad picture.