I wanted to share a, now funny, little anecdote about an incident I had in Dubai. I originally posted this article in 2011 when I had no followers and only my friends and, sadly, my mother, read it. Anyway, here’s something for Hump Day that will surely cheer you up.
I had begun to work for “The Corporation” in Rustamiyah, Iraq in February 2004. We worked twelve hours a day, seven days a week–no days off, but we were able to take R & R or vacation/holiday every 3.5-4 months. With the money I made and the time I had off, I was able to go anywhere in the world I wanted to go. People can call The Corporation evil all they want, but that “evil” corporation afforded me many travel opportunities that I would have never had, especially at the age of 24.
In September of 2005, I journeyed to my home of record at the time, Hanau, Germany, to hang out with a few friends of mine and to use Germany as my starting point for travel. From there I branched out to Venice and Rome, Italy.
While in Germany, my friend Latisha and I ventured to Frankfurt to get me a jacket–I remember it had gotten cold pretty quickly–and rainy. Germany can never leave out the rain. After we bought my coat, we wandered into Frankfurt’s Red Light District while discussing my total lack of a love life (who knew I’d meet my future husband a few months later!).
“You don’t have a man, you’re celibate and you’re cranky as hell. You need something to carry you over,” Latisha declared.
“I don’t need anything. I’m good,” I replied to her, but she still dragged me into an adult toy shop. It’s not like it was my first time being in an adult store, but with a friend, it was just odd. But what the heck. I was there. Might as well pick something out. And that we did. Only, when we got back to Hanau, I threw it in my suitcase and totally forgot about it.
Fast-forward three weeks later to my triumphant return, routed through Dubai, UAE. As I was coming through the security checks at DBX Airport, the gentlemen screening my luggage began to chuckle. One gentleman walked over to me slowly and whispered to me “Madam, do you have anything, uhm, sexual in your baggage?”
“No,” I replied, not remembering my special friend that I had purchased.
“Are you sure,” he whispered, trying to be discreet. Then it dawned on me.
“Oh shit!” I yelled, remembering what I tucked away in my baggage, but forgetting I was in a busy international airport. “I’m sorry, I forgot that I had that in there.”
“Come with me, please,” he demanded and I followed him beyond two sliding doors that turned into a holding room. The room was bright–hideously bright, sobering florescent light. Two Muslimahs sat behind the counter, staring at me, whispering to each other as if they had caught a prostitute. I was so embarrassed. Ten minutes turned into an hour, an hour into two. I wasn’t able to call anyone. How would I explain my arrest to my mother?!
After three hours another gentleman comes out and says “Madam, you are not permitted such X-rated items in our country. It is forbidden. Please keep this in mind. It will be destroyed. One moment, someone will bring your baggage to you then you are free to go.”
While waiting for my luggage to be returned to me, I had to sign a document for the release of my baggage. I still have a copy. “If you attempt to bring pornographic items into the UAE again, you will imprisoned. Do you understand?”
“Yes sir,” was all I could muster. I was so relieved. For the first time, I couldn’t wait to get back to Iraq!
**After a while, I thought about it: they turn a blind eye to human trafficking (modern-day slavery), prostitution, and allow alcohol to be sold in the hotel bars and clubs, but an unopened toy causes a disturbance?! Ugh! But you know what? It’s still one of my favorite cities.
Next time, I’ll share how my friend and I were thought to be prostitutes at during my first and only time going to a club in Dubai. I’ll just say, we had no idea that the club we went to was where all the prostitutes went to pick up Expatriate contractors. We thought it was just the hangout for Expats…**