Having had a couple of days to recover from jet lag I figured I would take this opportunity to discuss some interesting findings and thoughts I had while in Dubai. As this was my first visit to a Muslim country I wasn't quite sure what to expect, even though the population is 75% expats there were certain things that stood out.
Purchasing of Alcohol
Alcohol can only be purchased in hotel restaurants all other restaurants are not allowed to sell alcohol. There are liquor stores which are only accessible if you are in possession of an "alcoholic identity license." Only non-Muslims can apply for the ID and there are limits to the amount of alcohol that can be bought.
Muslim countries do not recognize the existence of Israel to the point where maps just leave that space blank. Some of my co-workers will not even mention the name they just say "that other country."
There is a significant amount of censoring in Dubai. Reading an interview with Elton John certain words were replaced by asterisks, even the word crap was censored out. Kissing scenes from television shows were edited out and there are restrictions to what you can access on the Internet. I was a little surprised when I tried to access www.meetup.com to RSVP to the Superbowl party being planned for Sunday and was presented with the following message: "We apologize the site you are attempting to visit has been blocked due to its content being inconsistent with the religious, cultural, political, and moral values of the United Arab Emirates."
Being presented with this message I got to wondering why this site was blocked and what other sites are blocked. The only thing I can come up with is that they consider meetup to be a dating site. Sites that were blocked included match.com, eurobet.com, and the games section on msn. Sites that were allowed included Facebook, MySpace and YouTube. I would think there are videos on YouTube that are against the values of the UAE, but maybe they have found a way just to block the offending videos and let the others through.