American Woman Detained in Abu Dhabi. And Everyone’s Assumption Is Wrong!


Last week, there was a report that an American woman was jailed in Abu Dhabi. The details of the incident are scarce. Headlines say she insulted the United Arab Emirates but the body says she refused help from two men at the airport. There’s much left to the imagination concerning the facts.

We visited the UAE last year and made a video of our experience. None of us is able to give it 5 stars. We felt detached and unwelcomed in some areas. Our goal is always to feel the heart and pulse of a destination.  That was quite hard to achieve. There are record-breaking monuments, extravagant malls and Ferraris up and down the highways. But beneath the gloss, the personal connection was missing.

In spite of our lackluster experience, I can’t join the “Down with the UAE!” brigade.  Respectively, I can’t assume this American woman received the proper punishment for whatever her offense was. There’s too much information missing to reach an educated conclusion.  Clearly, other Internet thugs feel differently.  The anti-Muslim, anti-Middle East, anti-American predators exploded!  Here are some of the not-so-thoughtful responses I came across, followed by my two cents. Most are from the United States and the United Kingdom:

1) blueskybob, Muscat, Oman

“If this ignoramus had bothered to try and understand the culture in the Middle East before arriving here she would understand that being impolite and rude in verbal ways or in gestures is seriously frowned upon. Personally I find it to be rather nice and civilised. Something her culture and other countries would do well to learn from.”

Let’s be clear. The sole use of the word “no” or possibly “no thank you” does not connote an ignoramus or criminal. The population of the UAE is 90% foreign…immigrants…expatriates. It’s very much a melting pot. That being said, many of the residents are less conservative than the country’s stereotype. Are they all jailed because of it? No!

2) Hunkydory999, South Yorkshire, United Kingdom

“Yet you want to come here and do as you please, boycott this backward country.”

Reminds me of when people refer to countries as driving on the wrong side of the road. Because it’s different makes it wrong? As a side note, I’d love to hear how an Arab woman from the UAE feels about this topic.

3) Akri Monious, Jacksonville, United States

“They may have fancy buildings, fancy cars and fancy roads but the place is a sewer on the best day. You give tribal religious nuts money and this is what you get……stay away from this smelly joint.”

You CAN’T be referring to the shisha! It smells so sweet.

4) wait4it, Las Vegas, United States

“she was probably being a typical American woman and lipped off to them, but until we know all the details. lets not jump on the bash UAE bandwagon.”

Let’s refrain from jumping on the “bash UAE bandwagon” before or after jumping on “bash the typical American woman” bandwagon?

5) john p sullivan, tenino thurston county WA USA, United States

“Foolish woman. Deserves whatever happens to her.”

Another lovechild parented by ignorance and malice.

6) Laurel, Richmond, United Kingdom

“It continues to utterly mystify me why any woman would leave a country in which she is equal under the law and travel to a country which is stuck in the Stone Age where she has no rights and is treated no better than cattle. Don’t spend your money there, don’t work there, don’t holiday there. Don’t spend YOUR money supporting a society in which you are not even legally allowed to drive a car and you can be accused of anything and jailed with NO rights.”

This point of view sounds familiar. Oh yes, it’s much like the police brutality epidemic construct of America. Yet our tourism is rarely targeted for a boycott. Let’s hear it for New York!

7) christine, new york, United States

“I wanted to go the Maldives for my honeymoon but this was the layover for it. We decided no way and went to Greece instead. Best decision ever.”

I. Would. Never.

8) VietnamVet_68, Honolulu, United States

“Oh yea, that’s the way to bring tourists in. Throw them in jail from the airport. Why in the world would any sane person travel to where you have no rights, where you could be thrown in jail for any reason, have no freedoms? Where is the enjoyment in that? Unless you believe the same things they do, you are not welcome and subject to arrest at any second. Oh gee golly, let me save all my money to go there. That sounds like fun. To hell with those people. And to hell with that part of the world. It’s their world, let them wallow in it. Me, I don’t give 2 craps what happens to them.”

Yes! Let’s put all the mean, oppressive barbarians on an island and torch it!  Wait.  Does that include the barbarians of western world?  Is this Apocalypse a little biased?

9) Jordansmuse, Federal Way, United States

“That’s why I stay my tail at home. If it isn’t drenched in western tourism, I pass.”

Oh, you. Where to start…do we even have to?

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