Expat Magazine

145. Tourists

By Martinfullard @MartyFullardUAE

Sorry things have been quiet on the UAE’s favorite website this last week; I have been clinically dead with the sniffles. And a cough. The only energy I have had is the energy to moan about how Panadol is utterly useless and that I should be transferred to an intensive care unit post haste. After a week of standing on the precipice of eternal darkness I am pleased to report that I am now back to full fitness and that life can resume.

Gonna make a supersonic man out of you...

Gonna make a supersonic man out of you…

When I was back in London two weeks ago I was, as far as I was concerned, a tourist. So being on holiday I opted to do what most tourists like to do when they’re on a break; get drunk. I do enjoy a good drink and to share a pint with friends and some high brow banter is nothing short of holiday perfection. Preferably, I would have liked to do such a thing on the beach, but since the closest alternative I have is the Thames and that it was -1 Celsius outside I was forced into the centrally heated pubs and clubs about town. No matter, dancing and singing, drink I did and drunk I was; burning through the skies, two hundred degrees, that’s why they call me Mr. Fahrenheit…

Once any given evening came to a natural conclusion I found myself needing sustenance, so to either the Royal Fish Bar or Subway I went. I then proceeded to walk home, stumbling across the pavement and sharing opinions with hedges and lamp posts alike. Then, to my hotel, well, my Dad’s house. After very, very quietly opening the door, slamming it, stepping on the cats’ tail, falling up the stairs, falling back down them again and sshhing the bathroom door I made my way to bed peacefully only to arise the following morning with a desire to do it all over again. It was a great holiday. Of course once back in the UAE I had to put my bowler hat back on, fix my tie, jump in the Merc and head to my business meeting.

You may have noticed that lately there has been a lot of brouhaha in the media about tourists here in the UAE getting into trouble. It is common knowledge the there are vast swathes of British media who, in an uneducated fashion, love to pour scorn over the UAE. The tiniest thing goes wrong for one unlucky Brit over here and The Daily Mail goes mad for it. Forget the fact that a poorly written set of words on a page prevents Great Britain from deporting Abu Qatada, a man who vows to destroy us, and that we can’t stop our own people abusing our own welfare state, no, the UAE gets dragged through the mud whenever some mad TOWIE wannabe says “blast” to a policeman.

Recently, two men tried to intervene in what they thought was an attack. One morning, after a heavy night on the beers, the two men witnessed a man tackling a woman and trying to force her into a car. Put yourself in their position, what would you do? Yep, I’d probably do the same as them; get stuck in and wait for the Victoria Cross. So the two lads took the guy out, sat on him and set the young lady free, hero’s they were. Except there was a problem; as it turned out, the lady was a prostitute and the man was an undercover policeman arresting her, well, that’s what he said anyway.

So the two men now find themselves in trouble. They had alcohol in their systems from the night before (and to clarify, that doesn’t necessarily mean that someone is drunk) and they assaulted a police officer. Good luck, lads, I hope common sense prevails.

Elsewhere, a Dutch woman finds herself in a spot of bother after being robbed. She reported the crime to the police and was not offered any help. She became irate and passed comment on the attending officer. It is also alleged (thanks, Leveson) that she spat on the officer, too. The prognosis was that she was drunk, at midday. So she also faces the cells.

Being a tourist here can be a hazard. I mean, in order to consume alcohol legally you have to have an alcohol license. But in order to get one you have to be a resident with a visa and an Emirates ID card, so how in the name of Sweet Mary is a tourist going to get one? It can’t be done; therefore being a tourist in itself is technically illegal. The police are not public servants in the same way that our lot are. Yes they are paid for by the state, but there is no “my tax pays your wages blah blah blah” cobblers. They don’t care about your back story; if you don’t play by the UAE rules then you’re in trouble and it’s your own fault for not doing the research. Don’t you wish that the British police were like that sometimes?

Sadly reading such stories will put a lot of people off coming to the UAE and there is a stable economic future, built on trade and tourism, to be considered. If people see that you can end up inside for having a slice of sherry trifle for dessert then they may opt to go elsewhere. That doesn’t bode well for the future of the Emirates and the situation will need review. However, if you do fall into the bracket of looking for an alternative holiday destination, then may I make a suggestion? Have you considered a holiday in Kingston-upon-Thames, London?

Sure the UK is full of hate preachers, green party supporters, benefits tourists and high visibility jackets, but I was there the other week and I had one of best times of my life. I got battered, was able to stay warm on the premise that I went nowhere near the outside world, there was no tourism taxation, and the police only threatened to arrest me if I used the wrong bin in the kitchen, not for being drunk.

The downside was that I nearly died of hyperthermia and brought the sniffles back to the UAE with me, which meant I couldn’t have a drink all week. But it was well worth it.

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