I was just about to finish my desert (a delicious Rhubarb Crumble to die for!) and head back to the Jumeirah Emirates Towers, when the manager of the hotel came over and invited me to join a certain “Beach Party” being held at the Atlantis. “What, a beach Party in Dubai?” I asked him in surprise. “Ahh, its not what you think, Sir”, explained the Manager.
Of course, Dubai is an Islamic country, and it is perhaps the last place on earth where you would expect a Beach Party to happen. I feared for the worst. Surely I am not going to come across loud and drunk immature teenagers (or adults) from Europe who are behaving like animals, and letting down their culture, and at the same time having no respect for the culture of the country in which are partying away in. However, I was wrong. This was not the kind of “Beach Party” you would expect to witness in somewhere like Ibiza or Greece and so on. And certainly blending in the fact that this is upmarket Dubai, slightly liberal yet still very much Islamic in culture, and equally upmarket Atlantis, so therefore this beach party was more like a Barbeque Party on the beach. There was a friendly atmosphere where friends and family members can sit around in a circle on the beach and eat traditional Arabic food, Barbequed lamb chops and perhaps even smoke a Shisha at the same time. There was also a DJ playing some fusion modern Arabic and Western beats. People were sitting down, relaxed and enjoying the nice atmosphere with the blessing of the full moon shining on the white sandy beach. Only a few things made one realise that this was Dubai- there was no alcohol being sold and the dress code was to cover the legs and arms. Yes, we have heard stories of some British people who have, either on purpose, through lack of knowledge of the local culture, or though their ignorance, done something silly things and have ended up being on the wrong side of the law. Dubai has this camouflaged image to the outside world, where people think that it is a very liberal place, and that they can go around as if they are back in the UK (or wherever), but in actual fact with all the luxury surroundings and the westernised atmosphere it is rather easy to forget that Dubai is no different to being an Islamic country than, say, neighbouring Iran or Saudi Arabia. Although I have been informed that if you are an Arab Sheikh, then you can get away anything- however, if you are a foreigner and irrespective of your ethnicity, you’ll pay a heavy price for your mistakes.