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Monday, March 15, 2010


Some recent developments should give pause to anyone who may visit a foreign country soon.

The setting is Dubai, one of seven members of the United Arab Emirates. In recent times Dubai has attracted a lot of world attention because of spectacular construction projects, a whopping oil industry and a per-capital income ranking 18th in the world.

It's a place that does things in a big way, including building palm-tree shaped islands to increase the waterfront real estate. You can see these things from orbit.

Very hot and very cool.

Not as cool is the kissing incident, at least by Western standards.

Two British citizens face a month in jail and deportation from Dubai because they were spotted kissing and drinking at a public restaurant there by a local.

Charlotte Lewis and Ayman Najafi were arrested in November.  The whole thing has been in a legal limbo since. They admit to the drinking but claim the kiss was just a peck on the cheek.

Whatever -- Dubai is hanging on to their passports, just to make sure, while their appeal is being reviewed.

As residents of the United States, we take a certain amount of civil liberties for granted; a smooch in a public place between apparently consenting adults is one of them.  We forget that other societies have different points of view on such things, and hold to their standards even if the situation involves someone who is not a native, someone who just may not know the rules.

Whether one agrees with those stipulations or not, it's reasonable to think that the old adage still applies, you know, the one about when in Rome.

So a cautious reminder to anyone planning to travel to Dubai (or other similar nations) anytime soon -- if life there gives you lemons, don't pucker up.

Amen, and pass the mustard.

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