Georgina Guedes

Kissing in public? Straight to jail

2010-03-19 16:30

This month, two holidaymakers in Dubai are facing a month in jail for kissing in public.

This definitely seems like a bit of an overreaction on the part of the Dubai government, but at the same time, tourists should abide by the rules of the country that they are visiting.

Dubai is a leading Middle Eastern tourism destination because of its relaxed attitude to drinking and partying among tourists. In recent years, however, there has been something of a clampdown on visitors engaging in acts of what they term "public indecency".

One comment made in the news by a Dubai local rings particularly true. He acknowledged that we all live in a global village, but stated that at the same time, every house has its rules.

When I was travelling around South East Asia, I was particularly careful to research the local customs in order to avoid giving offense. Some of the countries we visited even viewed public handholding as indecent - local women walked behind their men-folk. Although I wasn't at risk of being jailed for any transgressions, I did my best not to offend the local people in whose country I was a guest.

It was sometimes quite difficult to remember. My husband and I are very physically affectionate. I often found myself withdrawing my hand as if I had been burnt, as I reached across to take his, but caught myself in time.

It helped to remember that to the locals, the ban on handholding wasn't something they had dreamt up just to frustrate us. To them, it was an act of sensuality, not affection. I was never entirely sure what the extent of their discomfort was, but I refrained from public affection in the same way as I avoid public nudity or sexual acts, just in case.

Visitors to Dubai should be cognisant of local custom. It's only polite. There is nothing worse than a brash tourist insisting on behaving as if they were walking down the main road in their home town, rather than showing respect to the locals of the country they are visiting.

At the same time, as a tourist destination, Dubai should accept that people are going to flout the rules, or slip up unintentionally some of the time. A request to refrain from the offending action, a public reprimand or even a fine is enough to keep people from behaving badly in most cases. A prison sentence for public kissing is extreme, and if this starts to be a common occurrence, will see tourist numbers declining.

As for tourists who feel that physical displays of affection are an integral part of their holiday experience - go somewhere that you aren't offending anyone with your actions.

- Georgina Guedes is a freelance writer. She says come to South Africa. We don't mind if you hold hands.

Send your comments to Georgina

Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.

Read more on:    dubai


Read News24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


It may be hard to be light and jovial at the moment as the list of obligations and jobs are growing and your energy levels more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.