Monday, July 07, 2008

Dubai and the gay

AOG, Madrid

This past weekend Madrid celebrated Gay Pride 2008. It was meant to be held last week, in conjunction with Barcelona's Gay Pride, but organisers thought it best to avoid it clashing with 1- the Eurocup, which Spain won, and 2- Rock in Rio Madrid, which, strangely enough was held over two weekends, with the heavy guns reserved for the last weekend of the two (like Amy Winehouse who stumbled both on and off the stage, the drunk drug addict that she seems to be).

The positive thing is that this year, should you have so wished, you could have visited three of Spain's Pride celebrations one week after another for three weeks since Valencia holds its celebrations a week before Madrid and Barcelona. So this 2008, one could have done Valencia, Barcelona and then Madrid.

Personally, I think it is a great idea and should be kept as such for next year. But it probably won't be.

During the celebrations, we met with a couple of friends of ours (who happen to be a couple in real life) who moved from Barcelona to Dubai two years ago.

I of course had a lot of questions regarding their new home. Sadly, their answers made me never want to visit that country.

They said that, well, gay life is very limited, even though the country is bereft of homosexual men.

"It is all very underground", one of them said, "which is quite funny since Arabic men are always very physical with each other".

But what saddened me most was this bit of information: every now and then, and increasingly so lately, the police are rounding up gay men and throwing them in prison. See this article on Dubai's police.

And the best part, once there, they get injected with male hormones. Not Western men, only the locals and the foreign workers from Asia and Africa.

I was aghast when I heard this. Also, disappointed. Here I thought that the smaller Gulf states were ever more liberal (considering their history and religion) and were getting acquainted with Western ways of thinking.

They certainly like Western property investors if their thirst for impressive skyscrapers and island developments is anything to go by. I typed "Dubai" on Google images, and page after page showed only skyscrapers and property developments such as this image on the left.

When I was last in London I remember reading an ad for property opportunities in Dubai; not as expensive as you might think (though pricey when you consider you are living close to one of the planet's most explosive hot spots and it is, basically, a city built on a desert next to the sea).

I thought to myself that maybe one day I could invest there. It would be interesting, it certainly "looks" increasingly so from an architectural point of view.

But this information really makes me never to want to live or visit that part of the world.

It is outrageous if it is true.

Never did Spain look so forward thinking as in that minute when they told me this. How sad for us all.

Humanity I mean.


Timbo said...

I don't know...fabulous shopping....male hormone injections? Question: Do you get to shop before or after the injections? (Just kidding!!)

Keefieboy said...

Dubai is truggling to find a balance between Western freedoms and conservative Muslim values. It's the most screwed-up place I've ever lived (after Riyadh!).