No wonder many tourists to the United Arab Emirates get confused. Conflicting stories and court decisions abound concerning local law and etiquette to do with dress, decency, touching, the meeting of single people, drinking alcohol and eating food.
Thousands of internet sites are blocked in the UAE because their content is deemed “inconsistent with the religious, cultural, political and moral values of the United Arab Emirates.”
Then performers like Christina Aguilera perform in the UAE capital and images of her dress or lack of dress and sexy stage moves are beamed across the world from the iconic Emirates Palace sending mixed messages about what is haram and what is acceptable.
This article is not a criticism of Christina Aguilera. On the contrary, her journey to success despite a troubled family life, ostracism by schoolmates and her peers is inspirational. She has been blessed with an amazing vocal range, musical versatility, striking looks and a remarkable creativity in reinventing her image throughout the years.
Those who sponsored her visit to the Emirates would have been under no illusions as to what they were getting on stage when Christina accepted the invitation.
Imagine the confusion experienced by thousands of international readers concerning the “religious, cultural, political and moral values of the United Arab Emirates” when they ponder Aguilera’s Abu Dhabi performance through the reviews they read, the pictures they view and the video of the concert highlights.
Take this statement (27 October 2008) posted on the British site Entertainment Wise and headed up, ‘Christina Aguilera Gets Dirrty in Abu Dhabi’.
“Christina Aguilera showed off her amazing post-baby figure in a set of raunchy outfits whilst performing in the United Arab Emirates.”
“She may have just given birth but the new mum hasn't toned down her revealing stage costumes and sexy dance routines.”
“The Stronger star wowed the crowd at her Live In Abu Dhabi show in a barely there leopard print leotard.”
“She also donned a sparkling all-in-one ensemble that showed off her busty E-cup cleavage.”
Readers were also invited to view the photos from Aguilera’s ‘eye-popping performance’.
Again, there appears much that is commendable about Aguilera’s appearance, music, dance moves and her ability to wow the UAE crowd.
However the ‘raunchy outfits’, ‘revealing costumes’, ‘sexy dance moves’, the ‘barely there leopard print leotard’ and the exposure of ‘her busty E-cup cleavage’—none of which was toned down because of her new mother status or her new UAE location—tell the world that what goes on in New York and London is acceptable in Abu Dhabi.
In the UAE there is a recognized conservatism in morals and strictness about dress and appearance but these codes are observed and the law applied only some of the time.
By all means be conservative, moderate, open or liberal but whatever position a country takes, clear information about what is acceptable and consistency in standards will always be greatly appreciated.
What do you think about this issue?
Dr Geoff Pound
Image: Christina Aguilera performing in Abu Dhabi.
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