It would be great weather for the bog if you had a bog. The temperatures here in Dubai soar into the early 30s by midday and it’s still winter. The Donegal 2014 GAA senior squad arrived at the southeast coast of the Persian Gulf late last Friday night in high spirits although a bit tired after the long journey. We are located at one end of Jumeirah Beach in a fantastic resort which boasts a variety of restaurants, swimming pools and best of all a private beach.
Dubai has become symbolic for its high rise buildings and skyscrapers; in particular the world’s tallest building the Burj Khalifa. Dubai has emerged as a global city and business hub of the Persian Gulf region. It is also a major transport hub for passengers and cargo. By the 1960s Dubai’s economy was based on revenues from trade and, to a smaller extent, oil exploration concessions, but oil was not discovered until 1966. Oil revenue first started to flow in 1969. It’s main revenues now come from tourism, aviation, real estate and financial services with less than 5% coming from oil.
Kissing in public is strictly illegal and can result in deportation. Holding hands in public, even with one’s spouse, is also illegal. Homosexuality is illegal and is punishable by the death penalty. Non-Muslims are allowed to consume alcohol in licensed venues, typically within hotels, or at home with the possession of an alcohol license. Restaurants outside hotels in Dubai are typically not permitted to sell alcohol.
As in the rest of the Persian Gulf countries, during the month of Ramadan, it is illegal to publicly eat, drink, or smoke between sunrise and sunset in the UAE. Exceptions are made for pregnant women, children, and those with medical conditions that cause incapability of fasting. The law applies to both Muslims and non-Muslims, and failure to comply may result in arrest. The Islamic dress code is not compulsory, but prohibitions on wearing “indecent clothing” or revealing too much skin are aspects of the UAE to which Dubai’s visitors are expected to conform, and are encoded in Dubai’s criminal law. The UAE has enforced anti-indecency prohibitions in all public places (aside from beaches, clubs, and bars).
At Dubai’s malls, shoulders and knees must be covered and wearing sleeveless tops and shorts are discouraged.
So far so good for the Donegal party. Everyone has been relaxing and doing the things that tourists do in Dubai. We have a choice of visiting Aquaventure Aqua Park, swimming with dolphins, doing a desert safari, sightseeing on an open top bus, shopping at the traditional souks or basically lounging at the poolside with all the world’s beautiful people. Our players have been training every consecutive day in the early morning before the rest of us are awake.
The staff at our hotel are extremely friendly and helpful. Being an inquisitive traveller, I got talking to the young man who attends to my room every day. He is a native of Pakistan and had been working here for four months. He is on a two year contract and will not be home in that time. He is married with one child. He earns about €220 per month. He works ten hours a day, six days a week. This kind of exploitation is disturbing. Dubai for the most part is a fantasy playground for the rich and famous. It is a manufactured city set in the desert. Human rights organisations have heavily criticised violations of human rights in Dubai. Most notably, some of the 250,000 foreign labourers in the city have been alleged to live in conditions described by Human Rights Watch as “less than humane”.The mistreatment of foreign workers was a subject of the disputed documentary, Slaves in Dubai (2009). The approximate population in Dubai is 2.1 million. As of 2013, only 10-15% of the population of the emirate was made up of Arab UAE nationals, with the rest comprising expatriates, many of whom either have been in the country for generations or were born in the UAE. Approximately 85% of the expatriate population (and 71% of the emirate’s total population) was Asian, chiefly Indian (51%) and Pakistani(16%); other significant groups include Bangladeshis (9%), Filipinos (3%) and a sizable community of Somalis numbering around 30,000, as well as other communities of various nationalities. There are over 100,000 British expatriates in Dubai, by far the largest group of Western expatriates in the city. It is noticeable that there are many Irish people living and working here also. Islam is the official state religion here but large Christian, Hindu, Sikh, Baha’i and Buddhists communities reside here also.
Dubai is also known as “the city of gold”. Apparently, gold is a great buy here. As a reluctant shopper, I will not be buying any gold. I am here to relax and store up on the vitamin D. Although Spring is just around the corner at home, the thought of Ireland gives me the shivers. With whatever remaining time we all have left here, it is time to put the iPad away and get back to the beach.
As the young people here say “yalla bye”.