Updated: Jan 5, 2019
"Man, f@$'! Dubai!!!" No seriously f@$'! Dubai, were the sentiments shared by an African-American male expat who had been living and working in Dubai for more than half a decade. His opinions of this highly touted tourist destination, known for its opulence and luxury, was less than stellar. According to him, the only color respected in the UAE was green, and based on their standards of wealth you need to have a ton of it to have a solid vacay experience there. I, too experienced this.
Just like the hundreds of other young black professionals who purchased the Travel Noire - Etihad Airway deal to the UAE, three of my boys from undergrad and I capitalized on what we thought was going to be the trip of a life-time. I mean a roundtrip ticket that cost $200 was a no brainer to cop. After all I've been intrigued with this desert city known for its rapid development and innovation for quite some time. What seemed to be glitter, was not gold. Here are my top five reasons NOT TO VISIT Dubai!!
01 Hot as Hell
No literally. I mean I knew this place was in the middle of desert but sheesh! During our seven day stay in Dubai, the average temps teetered around a high of 97 degrees peeking at a high of 103 on some days. The idea of a vacation for me is the opportunity to escape the indoors and soak up as much sun as possible. Unfortunately during my stay in Dubai, most of my time was spent under the AC. Blown!!!!
02 Why Do I feel Like I'm Still in America???
Dubai is the commercial epicenter of the Middle East for sure, but at times I felt like the only thing different was the topography. For a trip almost halfway across the world, there were too many American and European influenced establishments for my liking. Everything from McDonalds, Shake Shack, and Cheese Cake factory, western influence was more than prevalent. If you are looking for a cultural immersion, this is not the place.
03 Culture Vulture Mentality
This is a very kind way of saying racist. I traveled with three other African-American guys. Our profile, graduates of the prestigious HBCU, Hampton University, all clean cut young professionals. Despite the level of influence the black man has on global culture, including sports, music, fashion, and the president of the free world for God sake, it was quite evident that some cultures still choose to marginalize our blackness. Glorifying the byproducts of black culture but denying the originators. I discovered this after several failed attempts to find the turn up. I recall visiting multiple nightclubs, where we could hear the likes of Future and Drake blaring though the venue speakers, but being met with opposition when trying to gain entrance in. More than a handful of times we were told it was "couples night only" or that we needed to buy a $1500+ table to get in while other Europeans who came after us would enter with ease. We quickly got the vibe and knew what they were on. Pure bull-$%*t in my opinion.
04 Women, Women, Womenzzzz!?!
As a traveling bachelor the thought of interacting with the opposite sex is all apart of the adventure. It's a natural intrigue when traveling with the fellas. I quickly learned this aspect of the trip was also very disappointing. The ratio of men to women in Dubai is 3:1. The countries population is dominated by men. Not to mention, the oldest profession in the world is alive and well in Dubai. Three fourths of the women population are prostitutes. So just when you think you are getting some act right from a female in Dubai, take heed. She just might just tell you her price tag for the night.
05 56 Nights
Before going to Dubai, I caught an interview online with Future's DJ, Esco, who at the top of 2015 spent 56 nights locked up in a Dubai prison. Long story short, this young black male with tattoos and dreadlocks caught the attention of Dubai airport officers and was profiled and searched. They found a dusting of marijuana in a bag that did not even belong to him. However, sense it was in his possession he took the wrap. Esco was locked up for quite sometime in a Dubai jail without representation. All this was acceptable according to Sharia law. Sharia law is the basic Islamic legal system derived from the religious precepts of Islam, particularly the Quran and the Hadith. These laws had me walking on eggshells. Despite being known as the party capital of the Middle East, Dubai has fairly strict laws around alcohol, public displays of affection and cohabitation. The consumption of alcohol is only acceptable at places that have an alcohol license, which is limited to four and five star hotels, restaurants and bars. Drunken behavior in public can leave you at the hands of the officials in Dubai.
Overall…, my trip to the U.A.E was not bad, but far from amazing. It was a great bonding trip with the fellas and the 24 hours that we spent in Abu Dhabi was incredible. If you are looking for a true Middle East experience, Abu Dhabi is where it’s at! We went on an amazing desert safari and visited the Grand Mosque, which was probably one of the dopest man made structures I’ve ever seen. Would I go back to Dubai? Eh unless I was going to collect a bag (cash money), probably not. But this is why we travel. Not every trip will be an escape to paradise. These experiences give you a global lens on how the world works. Although our time in Dubai didn't go as planned, I can now offer offer my personal and honest perspective to those who plan to travel there in the future.