Ask Ali: On vulgar language

The legalities of vulgar language, and things for a family to do in the UAE.

Dear Ali: I went to a "comedy" show at a pub last weekend and was appalled at the foul language. They held the show in a courtyard so anybody walking past would have been able to hear the "f" word being used about 20 times. I left at half-time because I don't consider the use of expletives funny. I thought there were rules against the use of vulgarity in this country. Why were those comedians allowed to use such vulgar language? ZK, Dubai

Dear ZK: Vulgar language is a sign of bad taste, poor upbringing and disrespect. Culturally, it is not appreciated, but legally, it is not an offence - unless it is used directly against a person, for whatever reason, and then it can be viewed as a crime. Also, if these comedians were using their vulgar language in a more public place or a school or a university, then it would not be allowed. But since they were in a pub - a more easygoing environment where people want to feel free to express themselves or listen to others freely express themselves, and especially since devout Muslims won't enter such a place - then such language is accepted as it's not perceived as a crime.

I am proud of the relatively liberal approach here that allows people to say what they want, the way they want. Yes, there are some limits and public denunciation of our country, our leaders or of any person is not appreciated, but, alhamdullilah, we don't have censorship to the extent that each and every word anybody says is scrutinised.

Part of our liberal approach is that alcohol is served and pubs do exist in our Islamic country. Most devout Muslims understand what goes on in pubs. We simply avoid such places, but if others don't share our view on this, we believe it is up to God to judge men.


Dear Ali: I will be in Dubai from June 9 to June 14. Can you tell me what I can do during my stay with my family? (The kids range in age from 6 to 17.) Do you have advice on transportation and midrange hotels? MM, Melbourne, Florida

Dear MM: Coming to the UAE means almost unlimited choices. Please look at the "Accommodation" section at for a list of hotels. And note that sometimes you get a better rate if you book a hotel via a travel agency abroad, which can fix you up with complete deals including airport transfers.

We have many nice places to see. The old city of Dubai with traditional markets on both side of the Creek and a great number of museums is a real treasure. And Dubai is known as our commercial centre.

Our country is not really big, so you would be able to visit the capital, Abu Dhabi, which is becoming the cultural capital of the Arabian world; the city of Sharjah; and our Oasis and Garden City of Al Ain within a day each. A half-day tour into the desert might also be fun for the whole family. And we have huge shopping malls and theme parks, but I don't think you are coming to see our malls. Look under the "Sightseeing" menu on my portal for more details.

We have a very good system of public transportation. Taxis are readily available and metered, and it is easy and reasonably priced to get a rental car, even one with a driver if you wouldn't enjoy becoming part of our freestyle driving community.

Remember that June is the beginning of our summer. All buildings and cars have air conditioning, but you should keep the potential high temperatures in mind when planning outdoor activities.


Language lesson

Arabic: Siyasa

English: Politics

Countries have different types of ideals and beliefs. "Hathi siyasatna" means "This is our politics", but is another way of saying "This is how we do". So it's a sentence that applies to more than just politics.

Published: February 8, 2012 04:00 AM


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