Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Women, Censorship, Sex, and the United Arab Emirates

An incident happened today in the clinic where I have no idea was a big deal to some people with such constricted minds. Although I didn't personally witnessed what happened after as it was only gossiped by my doctor.

A woman with her husband and kid came to our room for a consultation. I thought they were a Lebanese or Syrian family because the woman was wearing a pair of cropped jeans and a sleeveless shirt that certainly exposed her cleavage and the man was wearing a black in black suit. It is, for some Arab descent, like the ones I mentioned acceptable to dress such. 30 minutes after we treated her son, little did I know she was the talk of the town at the reception.

The family was a local Emirati. That was the revelation. For a country that proclaims itself  "open" I didn't understand quite well why such move was a taboo. The UAE has positioned itself in the 21st century setting; and the introduction of media, influences of modern expats that fill the country  has placed its culture on loose ground. Should freedom cost us prejudice? Is culture more important than our choices? I couldn't help but  be happy for the couple that despite the criticism they got, they were brave enough to stand for what they believed necessary. That despite a turn against what they were accustomed to, managed to have lived a life they wanted.

The other week I was in Al Wahda Mall seated about 3 tables away from a family. A girl about 2 years old couldn't be stopped crying. Her father shouted and slapped her I think twice in the face really hard while she was  on her mother's lap. Moments later a tear or two came falling from the mother's eyes. The sight of it has brought me to pieces. It was clear domestic violence in public. How I wish I were brave enough to stand for them.

Censorship also is big deal in this country. I took these shots from Russian Vogue about 3 months ago and look what they do in pages with nudity on. Anything that is pornographic is blocked online. Alcohol is controlled. Point is, the more people are choked with all these restrictions, the more people will get curious.

The United Arab Emirates is caught between years of tradition, cultural diversity and  modern day globalisation, that, it is now even harder to extract what is pure judgement. 2030 is Abu Dhabi's planned date towards change, and I hope its people, its minds will go as well with the times.:)

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